Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When (not) to call the doctor

Knowing when to call the doctor is important inside the hospital as well as out.

One night as newly minted third year resident I received a call from one of the floor nurses at about three AM. The beauty of the third year was the fact that call meant you were expected to get some sleep. "Doctor!" the nurse exclaimed, "the patient in 722 is complaining of itching."

"Really? Well please tell me more about the patient in 722." I asked since I had no idea who the patient was.

"She is a 45 year old who had a vaginal hysterectomy yesterday." The nurse told me. "What are you going to prescribe for her itching," she demanded.

"What medications is she taking? Does she have any allergies?" I was still trying to figure this out.

"She is only taking tylenol for pain." The nurse stated.

As I tried to drag as much history out of the nurse as possible minutes ticked by. I felt that I might as well get up and go up stairs to see the patient. "Well, does she have a rash?" I finally ask.

"I don't know," replied the nurse.

"You don't Know?" I ask. "Why don't you know?"

"Well, you see the patient was so sleepy she ask me not to turn the light on. She was worried turning the light on would wake her up too much."

(No, I didn't say what you know I was thinking.)
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