There was a new patient on my list.
I had never met this patient.
I have still never met this patient, because this patient was not in her room.
Her room was empty.
I was confused.
No one knew who this patient was.
No one had met this patient.
And yet she was on my list.
Did we lose her?
Did she leave?
Was she discharged?
Although, if she was discharged, why wasn't there a discharge note?
Cautiously-- somehow thinking I could try to find out if her family knew where she was without revealing that we had no idea-- I picked up the phone and called the number in the chart.
"Hello, I'm calling from [Hospital] about [Patient]."
"Yes, I'm her husband."
"Yes, uh, I'm one of the doctors on your wife's service, and I just wanted to check in and see how things are going..."
"Oh, yes, thanks so much for calling. Things are going well."
"Great. So your wife is... doing okay...?"
"Yes. She seems to be."
[At this point, I'm trying to figure out how I can ascertain whether she is in fact at home with him, or he thinks she is here with us, because both still seemed like reasonable possibilities.]
"Uh, did you have a chance to meet any of the doctors taking care of her?"
"I did, yesterday."
"Great. And, uh, for the holidays..."
[Please finish my sentence, Mr. Patient Husband, because I don't know where it's going. Please please please--]
[Oh no, I have to keep talking...]
"...if you need to reach anyone here, I can give you a number..."
"Oh, that would be great."
"And the next time you'll be here..."
[I was really proud of myself for coming up with that line, because I figured it has to lead me somewhere, right?]
"Oh, she has a follow-up next Wednesday."
"Oh, great. So you're with her now..."
"Yes, she's in the living room, resting."
"So her discharge went smoothly..."
"Yes, thank you. Thanks so much for calling. It's great to know that someone is following up and checking in."
"Yes, well, we try. Have a great holiday."
"Thanks, you too."
Yes, another sterling bit of customer service over here, as we try to make sure we didn't accidentally misplace a patient! Happy holidays!