Monday, June 25, 2012

Is That an African or European Swallow?

We always get tons of calls looking for advice.  We are not a free advice service and are prohibited from giving any by our employers other than "if you think you need to be seen, come to the ER".   To be honest, these calls are largely an annoyance; we get 10-15 per shift.  They pull us away from caring for people who have already made the decision to be evaluated.  Don't you get annoyed when you have been waiting patiently in a store or business, only to have your turn for service trumped by a phone call?  The most important customer is the one right in front of you.

Sometimes the call is driven by fear or denial and instead of calling 911, people will call us.  Easy answer.  Hang up and call 911, or I will get the address and call dispatch for them if they are too hysterical. Most of the time though the are all about convenience or lack of common sense.  People get truly pissed off because we refuse to give them any practical information.  It is a liability.  I get that you don't want to talk to your PCP after hours, or it didn't occur to you to call your PCP in the morning before you went to the gym.  Perfectly understandable that although you have already called your PCP, you think it is stupid that you were advised to go to the ER and you just want to check and make sure.  Unfortunately most PCP's have the same bottom line in the decision tree that we do.  Go to the ER.

Some of secretaries are comfortable giving people the standard response: we don't give advice.  If the nurses are busy they can at least screen calls for us and give us a head's up before we pick up the receiver.  We take turns.  Sometimes the calls can be quite amusing, and we award them meaningless points.  Everything is made up and the points don't matter though.

I Rock, Paper, Scissored with Lisa and lost on an advice call.  We had been forewarned by Jules:

Mr. Outdoors: "Hi, I just have a question.  Yesterday I was out mowing my lawn, and I had my iPod on my belt, now today I feel kind of warm.  And I have a little bit of a headache (and 4 other symptoms like finger pain and grass stains).  Then I noticed that around where my iPod was touching my skin it seems a little red.  Is it because I was outside and it was hot?  Could it be a burn?  Should that happen?  Would it also cause the other symptoms?  How late are you open?  Should I come right down or should I wait until tomorrow to call my PCP?"

-15 points for asking more than just the one question you originally proposed

+5 points for mowing the lawn

+10 points for remembering you had a PCP

-20 points for having 3 or more symptoms

+50 points for me for knowing the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

Bonus points for finding out what was on his iPod