Friday, July 11, 2003

While fulfilling my on call duties today I have experienced some of my biggest pet peeves I experience as a physician. Let me share some of them with you.

1. THE PATIENT'S TELEPHONE: This is far and away my biggest annoyance. Standing in a hospital room. I am taking a history, examining, or explaining my plan to the patient and family....and the phone rings. It is answered and instead of "The doctor is here, let me call you back." I am sidelined as the patient/family member carries on a five-to-ten minute conversation while I stand there. If it is a family member on the phone and I continue to examine or discuss plans with the patient, the telephone talker always asks me to re-explain things when they get off the phone. I've walked out of rooms before when they won't get off the phone, I tell them I'll be back when they aren't so busy.

1b. THE PHONE, REDUX: Slightly less annoying is when I walk in and the patient is talking on the phone, and doesn't hang up. Yes they were on the phone before I walked in, but they aren't in the hospital to talk on the phone. I've left the room during this one too.

2. THE PATIENT'S TELEVISION: Patient would rather watch Jerry Springer than discuss their care. Even better when combined with the telephone as described above. Have actually had to turn TV off before.

3. THE WEEKEND FAMILY: This is why I must finish rounds on Sunday before church lets out. Family members who are nowhere to be found during the week make their "social visits" on Sunday afternoon. Lots of questions and complaints. This all after I've been on call since Friday morning and I just want to get rounds done.

4. THE OUT-OF-TOWN FAMILY: Taking care of a patient...established rapport with family....then the OUT-OF-TOWNERS show up. Usually a sibling or child of the patient. Usually with some medical/legal training that they use to browbeat nursing staff and other family members. These people go through the best-laid discharge plans like Godzilla through Tokyo Harbor. These people also fit into the category of WEEKEND FAMILY.

5. THE SPOKESPERSONLESS FAMILY: This is also a problem for the nurses. Large number of family members, each calling and asking the same questions. A REAL big problem with trauma patients.

These are only a few. I invite your comments and your own pet peeves. Happy rounding!!
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