What Goes Around Comes Around

Take it for what it’s worth, here’s a true story; with the official disclaimer that minor literary license is taken and identifying details are left out so as not to violate patient privacy.

Once upon a time, in a busy Emergency Department in an American city, a man was feeling somewhat ill but was in no medically acute distress.  Placed in Bed 5 he had his vital signs checked, with the chief complaint and history of present illness duly heard and recorded by the nurse.  A focused physical exam was completed and the nurse’s assessment was charted and routed to the physician.

However, the physician did not immediately attend to this man. In fact, he ignored the existence of this man and his chart quite completely since he knew he could trust the nurse’s evaluation as to the essential stability of the patient.   Feeling neglected, the man began to loudly complain, and demanded “to see my doctor”.

The nurse explained to the patient that more critically ill patients need to receive the doctor’s attention ahead of those who are stable or whose injuries are not threatening to life and limb.  Furthermore, the nurse explained that the physician was currently working with a patient in the trauma room who had gone into cardiac arrest and he would not be seeing any other patients until after that life-saving attempt was completed.

The man stated “That’s their problem!  I am sick and I want to see the doctor NOW.”   When his unreasonable request was not met,  he was angry, and he left angry.

In less than 24 hours he was back, suffering a major heart attack himself.

Attitudes and the power of our words need always to be given careful consideration.Picture 156

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