Friday, December 17, 2010

Doctors are poeple too! Who'd have thought?

 Actually I always knew they were people, I just never thought of them that way. As a child I had it beat into me was taught that "whatever the Doctor said, is exactly what we are going to do". Respect for the Doctor was a given, a baseline, it was understood.  You never questioned it. Of course, it also helped that I had a fantastic Doctor who I had the deepest respect for from my earliest memory, mostly because he was kind, thoughtful, gentle, and spoke to me nicely then listened to what I had to say.
 Of course, when I came into EMS, it was not quite the same and I began to fear most Doctors because now I had a place in 'the pecking order' which put me right around the bottom. Most Doctors looked and spoke to me with disdain, if they noticed me at all. If I needed to speak up for the patient, it was hard to get my points across. Most E/D Docs I came into contact with did not care to hear what I had to say. They would do their own assessment, thank you very much.
 But, the Doc is the Doc, and he's the boss. Like they say "What do you call a person that graduated at the top of his/her class in Medical School?" "A Doctor." "What do you call a person that graduated at the bottom of his/her class in Medical School?" " A Proctologist Doctor also."
 For the last year we've had an entire new group of Doctors running the E/D around here, and they are all from out of the area, and all youngish. I have yet to meet one who isn't either stressed out, nasty, or re-thinking his/her career choice. Mostly, I just talk to Nurses suffering from the Doctor's good humor, which is bad enough.
 But the other night I brought in a patient that was a cantankerous old gal that I knew was gonna give them a hard time. "They threw me out of there the last time, y'know!? Those bastards just want my money, and I ain't got enough to make them happy."
"Now Mrs. Smith, I find it hard to believe  that they THREW you out. Are you sure that's what happened?" I asked. "Yup, they did, they took my money, or sent me a bill, and threw me out without even fixing my problem. Just a bunch of bloodsuckers."
 "Well Mrs. Smith, I tell you what, why don't you try beating 'them' at their own game? How about if we take you in there and you try being just as sweet as pie. Be really nice. That way they will feel like helping you and they will come to check on you instead of spending time with the patients that give them a hard time?"
 "Hey, yeah, that's not a bad idea. I'll beat them at their own game. They won't know what hit them."
 I smiled and thought, 'hey, I'm getting good at this.'
 So we rolled into the E/D and placed her on her bed. I gave my typical turnover to the RN as the Doctor walked in. He started asking the patient questions and I shut up, like I always do. But then he stumbled on the question about her meds, that fact that she lived alone, and he asked her how he could know that she was taking all her meds properly and on time. She had held a pleasant demeanor for almost 3 whole minutes, but this was too much. She looked at him as her eyes narrowed and I could see it coming. She stared right into the Doc's eyes and said "DO I look like some stupid, old, feeble minded, half batty, half dead woman? DO I look like an IDIOT?! Do you really think that I'm so stupid..." The Doc is starting to work up an answer and I can see he's getting ready to come right back at her. I reached over and touched his arm as I began to speak.
 "Now Mrs. Smith, remember our chat in the ambulance?" I gave her a stage wink and went on "Now the Doctor and Nurses here have to ask you all these questions because they just met you. They don't know you as well as I do. They want to make sure they don't miss anything, and I'm sure you wouldn't want them to miss anything either, would you?"
 She looked down at her lap, like a 5 year old little girl. "No, you're right. I'm sorry, that was rude of me. " I nodded to the Nurse across the bed, turned to nod at the Doc and take my leave, when I realized the Doc's was smiling at me. "If you don't need me Doc, I'll get this paperwork done."
 I sat in the EMS room finishing the sheets and as I was getting up to go, the Doc came in. "Hey, that was pretty good. Do you think you could teach my Nurses how you did that? She's sitting in there as sweet as pie. One of the other nurses told me she was here last week and they couldn't get her moved on fast enough. NICE Job, really." "Sorry I cut you off  Doc, I'm sure you could have handled her fine, but I thought I would try one more time and I think it stuck." "So far, so good. Thanks again for your help, you paramedics surprise me sometimes." "Sorry Doc, I'm not a Medic, just an EMT." "Really?!" he said, "You mean you're a volunteer?" "Well Doc, not all EMT's are volunteers, but in this case, yeah, I'm just a volunteer. I do this 'for fun'." "Well I'll be damned, I learn something everyday. I'm gonna have to make a point of getting to know you guys a little better. Nice job." "G'night Doc."
 That's the first meanigfull exchange I've had with and E/D doc in over a year. Who'd have thought?


  1. It's kinda nice when an ED doc recognizes that we have medical training AND we may actually be competent.

  2. Yeah, it's only happened to me a couple of times. Usually it's a nurse that will stop you on the way out and say "good work". Doctors never seem to notice us, and when they do, it's because they believe we should have done something that we didn't do. "Why didn't you clean this patient up?" "Gee, I dunno Doc, I think it was because we were focused on the fact that he wasn't breathing."
    Thanks for the comment.