* * Anonymous Doc: Please Have a Seat in the Waiting Room. Please?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Please Have a Seat in the Waiting Room. Please?

I had to cover a shift reading chest x-rays in the hospital.  It's usually a fairly chill evening, as compared to covering patients on a ward.  You sit in a room, interpret x-rays, and write notes.  A woman runs into the office, frantic.

"Yes, my son just had a chest x-ray and I need you to read it.  Quickly."

"Sorry, uh, you're..."

"I'm a doctor.  Not here, but I'm a doctor.  My son is very sick.  I need you to read his x-ray."

"I'm sorry, I read them as they come up in the system, there's a queue.  If you want to wait in the room outside, I can let you know after I've read it, and you can go talk to your son's doctor about it..."

"No!  You're going to read it right now."

"I'm sorry... like I said, you can take a seat in the room outside, and I'll come get you after I've read it.  As a doctor, I'm sure you understand the protocol.  Who's your son's physician here?"

"He came in through the ER, I don't remember the doctor's name.  But I need you to read it right now.  He might be very sick."

"There's an order in the system, I assure you that it'll be read very soon-- I just can't have you in here while I'm working.  As a doctor, I'm sure you understand."

"As a doctor, I understand that you have to read my son's x-ray right now."

"Okay, you know what, this isn't how it's supposed to work, but let me just pull it up and take a look, okay?"

"That's what I've been telling you to do!"

"Fine, fine.  [I look at the x-ray.]  Okay, well, it looks like [small finding, nothing of an emergency nature], now if you can go back to the ER, the report will be in the system in a few minutes, and you can talk to your son's doctor about next steps."

[frantic] "He's gonna die???  Is he gonna die???"

"No.  I'm sorry... where are you a doctor?"

"At [local university that doesn't have a hospital]."

"Wait, what kind of doctor are you?"

"I'm a professor of linguistics."


"I have a phD in linguistics from [prominent university]."

"Okay, please go back and speak to your son's doctor.  The report will be in the system in a few minutes.  I hope he feels better."

"So he's not going to die?"

"Probably not today."


  1. It irritates me so much when a family member tells me they're "a doctor" and then it turns out they're a PhD. I've had it happen multiple times, and they usually get "busted" within a minute when you try to say anything medical to them. It's not like we'd treat an MD better than I'd treat a non-MD, but we'd use different language for sure.

  2. As an RN, I think it's really going to be crazy if the doctorate of nursing starts taking off more.

  3. Depends on what the Ph.D. is in! My Biology degree is helpful in conversations with docs, for sure (but I also don't try to pass myself off as an MD!)

    1. Veterinarians get this too, from all kinds. A physician whose animal I saw on an emergency basis repeatedly and obnoxiously called himself "Doctor" and repeatedly asked me what my first name is. "Doctor" I replied.

  4. you see patients AND read chest xrays??

    1. We do not question the awesomeness that is AnonDoc!

    2. Or I borrow a story from my radiologist friends... :)