Sunday, June 2, 2013
Get me Pam or Bev
Clinic. Oh how I hate thee.
Now that I am a fully registered non-intern-type actual doctor, I have to run a clinic. It could be worse - it's only one morning every fortnight. But it is nuts. I am in fact a reasonably good doctor, despite my gross inexperience. Thanks to my eidetic memory, burly forearms, and devil-may-care smile, I am quite good at preventing people from dying whilst in my care unless they have an actual life-threatening illness. But clinic isn't about avoiding killing people until you can handball them on to the next shift. It's about actually trying to get things done. Mysterious things.
You sit in a tiny little room seeing patients who need expert advice on their medical issues. Patients you have never seen before and will probably never see again, who have problems you've never heard of, and have no idea how to appropriately manage. You may think this sounds foolish, wasteful, dangerous, stressful, or even ludicrous. You are correct.
What happens is that people go to see their GP and say, "When I wake up in the morning I can smell ferrets". And the GP says, "Hmmm", and then says, "I'm going to refer you to a colleague of mine who specializes in this type of thing, as it can be quite serious". And the GP writes a letter to the clinic saying, "Thank you for seeing Mr John Patient regarding him waking up in the morning and smelling ferrets, for your advice and ongoing management etc".
And you turn up at clinic and there is a file sitting on your desk with the GP's letter in it, which you read and think - what the fuck? So you bring the patient into your room and ask him every question you can think of that seems relevant - no, I don't own a ferret - no, I don't ever smell anything else - yes, I'm allergic to strawberries - no, I don't have diabetes or epilepsy. And after twenty minutes of this you are none the wiser, and resign yourself to asking the consultant.
Yes, the Big Boss is sitting in a tiny little room next door, seeing his own patients just like you are but presumably not thinking, what the fuck? quite so often as you. So you knock on his door, stick your head in and say, "excuse me Dr Hardhat", which of course he answers by saying, "Just wait" because he's trying to see a patient. So you hang around the corridor for 15 minutes waiting for him to finish. Hopefully the patient isn't using your computer to look at anything too dodgy on the internet, like homeopathy sites or pictures of Tony Abbott.
Finally your moment arrives. "Dr Hardhat, I have a man next door who wakes up in the morning and smells ferrets." "Good God! What's his record number?" "I don't know, I'll just go get it."
So you go and get the patient's record number and the consultant proceeds to look at the patient's blood results, CT scans, home address, previous admission records, all at high speed and in apparently random order. And all the while he is asking you surreal questions that you don't know the answer to because nobody in their right mind would have thought to ask them unless they were already a ferret-sniffing specialist.
"Is he left-handed? Has he ever had radioactive iodine? Did he work as a paprika-splitter prior to the signing of the Ottawa Charter? Is his wife from Brazil? Does he have intact proprioception of the nasal septum?"
The only good thing about this is that he doesn't actually wait for you to answer any of these questions. Then he turns to you and says, "Well, we're just going to have to do a transplantational conscious venothrombofistulinstagramatron. Put him on my list for Wednesday." And then he leaves to get the next patient. And you think, not for the first time, what the fuck?
So you go back to the patient and inform them solemnly that having considered their situation, that you think they need an urgent transplantational conscious venothrombofistulinstagramatron. And the patient says yes, okay. Because they were out of their depth way back when they saw the GP and now they're just going with the flow.
And you're sitting in this office desperately riffling through every drawer in the desk trying to see if you can find a form to book one of these damn things before you die of hunger. And you can't, so you leave the room, looking in despair at the growing pile of patient files on the trolley outside your door. And you see the consultant coming back with a patient so as he passes you ask him how to book that thing he wanted. And he says, "Just call Pam". And you think, who the fuck is Pam?
So you call the hospital switchboard and ask to speak to Pam, and they ask which Pam, and you say Pam who works for the ferret-sniffers, and they say ok, but the phone just rings and rings and rings, and the patient is staring at you as the sweat runs down your forehead. And you call switchboard back and ask them for Pam's other number but they just keep putting you through to the same extension which rings and rings and rings. And you can see out the window that there is an orderly driving a little electric cart back and forth across the parking lot moving bins full of dirty laundry, and you're thinking you chose the wrong career.
And eventually while you are staring blankly at the wall in front of you trying not to meet the patient's gaze in case he sees The Fear In You while the phone rings and rings and rings in your ear, you realize that you are staring at a piece of paper typed in the 1980's and thumbtacked to a corkboard which says, in faded archaic monospaced font, "VENOTHROMBOFISTULINSTAGRAMATRON BOOKINGS - PAM 81702".
So you dial 81702 and Pam picks up the phone and you ask for a spot on Dr Hardhat's list for next Wednesday and she says conscious or sedated, and you say conscious and she tells you to call Bev instead and hangs up but at least you know Pam's number so you call back and ask for Bev's number and eventually after much bewildering misadventure much in the vein of the preceding tale, you get through to Bev and book an appointment. So you give the patient the appointment time and breathe a sigh of relief.
Then you tell the patient that you're sorry he parked in a 15-minute spot but you don't have any authority over the parking inspectors. And you don't know how long the test will take next Wednesday but it would be best to probably sell the car and catch a cab instead. And yes, his gangrenous foot is no doubt troubling him but you think it would be best dealt with by his GP. And you push the patient out the door, take the next file from the stack, and start all over again.
at 1:05 AM
|This post is:|