Fun With Suits! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Snippets, again

@@ Please, do NOT tell me that Bonine is 125 (or 12.5: she was not speaking clearly) milligrams, over the counter. I happen to know that OTC Bonine is Meclizine 25 mg, the same strength anti vertigo medication I prescribe as Antivert, and I know this for reasons. These reasons include (a) I kinda went to school for this stuff, (b) I prescribe Antivert/Meclizine several times a week, (c) TDW and I enjoy taking cruises, and she is somewhat susceptible to seasickness. Therefore, I am familiar with Bonine in it’s seasickness/motion sickness indication. Therefore I purchase it, OTC. Ya know, like last week. (d) When I acquire a medication, I (pay attention now! This one weird trick will help you manage your medicines!) RTFL. (Read The Freaking Label). (e) I have a functioning memory, not blown out by continuous applications of high serum levels of cannabinoids. Therefore I can remember this stuff, along with other stuff I find useful.

Finally, please, Please, PLEASE! Consider the possibility that I, indeed, am trying to both help you, as well as make your life easier.

The above is my internal monologue, which is considerably lengthier than my first pass response, also stifled, of “Hmm. Weird. Ok, then, don’t take it. Good talk. Have a nice day! Buh-bye, now!”

@@ So, TINS, TIWFDASL, as an ED nurse, long ago and far away. It came to pass that my manager invited me to join her in her office, where she told me that several of my colleagues had come to her, concerned with what they esteemed to be my taking overly long to triage patients.

For those in the studio audience who do not know, “triage”, in the ED setting, is the process wherein a nurse interviews the patient to elicit chief complaint (“What motivated you to come to ER tonight?”), history of present illness (“How long have you been ill? What have you done to address it? How did that work for you?”), allergies/medications/history, and vital signs. In the course of that conversation, the goal is to identify unstable folks, and truck them right back to care, and differentiate them from stable folks (like a broken limb with intact downstream circulation), and invite those folks to be patient.

I asked my manager how long I was taking, on average, to triage? This information ought to be readily available from our electronic medical record system.

“I don’t know.” was her reply.

I asked how my triage times compared to the average of my peers.

“I don’t know.”

I asked if the acuity of the patients I triaged was similar, greater, or less than the average of my peers.

“I don’t know.”

I asked if the complexity of the patients I triaged differed in any identifiable way from my peers (think psych requiring lots of redirection).

“I don’t know.”

I contemplated this for a second. “Wouldn’t it be a lot easier for me to improve, if I understood the manner in which I am falling behind my peers? I had thought that one of the advantages of an EMR was the ease with which just this sort of information could be abstracted.”

@@ In my clinic, folks who are currently afflicted with covid, or who fail the screening interview/temperature taking, get seen as “covid + other” patients. They are invited to wait for their turn in their vehicles (or, in nice weather, outside), rather than in our waiting room. Inasmuch as we are a walk in clinic, there are no appointments, and, if you are at the shag end of “The Wave”, well, you face a lengthy wait.

Some of these individuals drive off, thinking (not altogether wrongly) that a lengthy wait=an opportunity to get other stuff done.

The problem with this plan, is that, should a number of the other folks in line ahead of you, either spontaneously cure themselves, or decide, in essence, “F&@k this, I’m not all that sick”, and depart, your turn may arrive earlier than your errands anticipated. So, when the MA calls you on the phone number you provided today at registration, (a) it might be useful if you answered it, as well as (b) if the phone in question was actually in service.

Among the souls who successfully pass these two tests, there are those who respond, when told that their turn was at hand, and we (the MA) had some questions for them preparatory to actually seeing them in the office, “I can be there in 25 minutes!”

Well, that is kind of a fail. The MA will then tell them, “Sorry, we’ll call the next person on the list, who is here now. You will be at the bottom of the list, since leaving the line loses you your place in line.”

Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

“So, I just have to deal with my pain!”

So, TINS©, TISFDASL©, and was in the midst of winding up my plan of care tutorial for the patient du jour. This soul had been experiencing their pain for several weeks. They had not, of course, contacted their primary care. (To be fair, it is not uncommon for a walk in patient to respond affirmatively to my query regarding attempts to meet with their primary care, and to note that they indeed HAD an appointment, several weeks from our conversation.)

In any event, I had elaborated on management of their problem, featuring rest, ice, elevation, and ibuprofen. I observed that it was likely that their physician would consider things like physical therapy, or maybe a referral to orthopedics. Given how insurance reimbursement works, if I, NOT the primary care, order these things, it is entirely likely that the insurance company will NOT subsidize them, and an initial visit with a specialist, like an orthopedist, can easily run around $500, before the insurance company pays their share.

Personally, I would be happier if the insurance company chipped in.

This soul replied, “Well, I guess that I will just have to deal with my pain!”

I replied, smiling, “Well, that is certainly an option. Alternatively, you might consider the measures that I have just outlined, and those that your doctor might order, which might moderate or eliminate your pain. You could do that, instead!”

Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

SURPRISE!

So, there I was, fighting disease and saving lives, and my MA came to me, regarding somebody who had arrived for a subsequent Covid inoculation. This soul had informed my MA, AFTER THE INJECTION HAD BEEN ADMINISTERED, that she, the patient, had had a reaction to her first inoculation. She described this reaction as swelling, itching, and feeling ill. This had developed in a couple of hours after the injection.

It turned out that, today, this patient had, indeed, developed swelling, runny nose, cough, and whole body itching within FREAKING MINUTES after her injection. (those of my studio audience who have some sick people experience might recognize these indications as harbingers of anaphylaxis)

Weellll, we administered some IM Benadryl, some IM steroids, a breathing treatment, and close attention from my MA. Several repetitions of vital signs and reassessments later, this lady had seen her breathing improve, her itching subside, her swelling tapered, and the cough and runny nose reduced.

So, pro tip: If you swell up after the first dose of whatever the frack you are being injected with, tell a motherfucker, ya know, like, BEFORE you get the next injection. Personally, my geezerly ass will very, very much appreciate it.

Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

Your View, Is *NOT* The Entirety of The World

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL©, alone as my midlevel walk in clinic shift started. We were supposed to have two of us from opening, but, well, some of us are renowned for strolling in something on the order of 30 minutes late. In addition, there was a third provider slated to come in around 2 hours after opening, and work til close.

To start off with, I had a 5 pack of kids. Well behaved kids (Thanks be to Crom!), but, five at a time nonetheless. All in one room, so, of course, it appeared to whoever else had decided to start their day with a visit to the walk in clinic that I was taking something over an hour with one patient.

One such soul opened her exam room door, around 40 minutes after we had opened our doors for the day, and while I was on Number 3 of 5 in the 5 pack, and asked “how much longer?”

I was charting, and replied, “20-30 minutes”.

She asked, “How come?”, and the MA explained “there are 5 in front of you.”

The questioning patient was surprised. “How can that be? There was nobody here when I arrived!”

The MA answered “I had already roomed them when you had arrived”.

“That’s crazy!” observed the impatient patient.

I was kind of busy. My response was “Yep.”

Fun And Games · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

My FAVORITE! Things

My FAVORITE! Things

@ When, as part of my assay of History of Present Illness, I ask you how long you have had your (cough, or whatever other symptom motivated you to march you happy butt into my clinic), please, Please, PLEASE do NOT!!! say “a good little while”, or something similarly non responsive to my question. I will simply repeat my question, using the same words, and the same pleasant, inquiring tone, over and over, until you do, indeed, tell me “2 hours” or “2 days’ or “2 weeks” or “2 months” or “2 years”. Simply so you know, IDGAF how long you have had this symptom, on the other hand, it does have some implications for what plan of care I ought to consider in order to, ya know, actually benefit you.

@ Similarly, for the love of Crom, do NOT tell me, in response to my question, “What have you done for (your symptom)?”, that you have “taken over the counter”. Should any of you in “the studio audience” desire to understand just how unhelpful this is, please spend a few minutes on only one freaking aisle of any drug store you wish, and attempt to catalog the dozens of freaking allergy meds therein. By way of illustration, if you have used a nasal steroid, that would be helpful for me to know, since, should that have been unhelpful, I will be required to up my game.

If OTOH, you simply took The Multi Symptom Dreck You Saw Advertised On The TeeWee Last Night, well, I can then recommend some, oh, gee, I dunno…EFFECTIVE OTC medications, instead.

@ I love it when Joe-Bob goes to (St. Elsewhere) yesterday, does NOT pick up his prescribed medications, and swings by my clinic. Because “I’m not any better”.

@ When I direct you to call your family doctor and arrange followup, and you reply, “They always tell me to go to walk in!”

So, you’re telling me that WALK IN prescribes your blood pressure meds, your psych meds, as well as your diabetic meds?

All this is news to me.

@ When I ask, as my review of symptoms, “Have you felt as if you had a fever?”, and you reply, “I don’t have a thermometer”. (how did folks FEEL feverish, before the invention of the precise thermometer by Farenheit in 1714?) Or, alternately, “your nurse just took my temperature, and said I do not have a fever.” (which, of course [a] I already freaking knew, having reviewed the vitals and nursing notes before I walked in the door, as well as [b] NOT answering my freaking question!)

Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Pre Planning Your Scene

If Only I had Gone to School For This, Or Something!

There has been a spate of RSV going around, lately. RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is contagious, via airborne droplets. In small children, it can lead to hospitalize-level-illness, whereas in adults it generally causes “a cold”. The reason younger children can get so ill, is that should the virus elicit swelling of the smaller airways, children, having narrower airways, cannot tolerate as much swelling as adults and older kids, before their ability to move air is compromised. We can test for RSV in the office.

So, from time to time parents bring in their kids, reporting cough, or lack of interest in feeding, or runny nose. Occasionally such a child will test positive for RSV. Occasionally such a child has alarming vital signs. One such child arrived, and the MA truncated her intake, once she noticed retractions and diminished oxygen level in this infant. She trotted out, figuratively grabbed me, and brought me in to see the child.

I saw, myself, the retractions. Retractions occur when the effort of breathing in, is increased to the point that the skin between the ribs, or below the ribs, draws in from that effort. NOT NORMAL!

We administered a nebulizer (“mist”) treatment of a bronchodilator. Subsequently, the retractions had not particularly improved, nor did the oxygenation of this child. I directed the mother that she needed to take her child to the emergency department. She responded that her ride was not present, and there would be a delay as the ride returned.

I recommended EMS at that point. The child appeared to be stable, presently, but I was uninterested in determining how long that would take to go downhill.

The mother responded, “No, I want to wait for my ride.”

It appeared that I had not successfully identified to her the ways that significant delay could make things go horribly wrong. And, waiting for her ride promised to present a significant delay.

Mother was not impressed. Her ride (eventually!) arrived, and everybody went to emergency. Finally.

Duty · Having A Good Partner Is Very Important! · Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact · Protect and Serve · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Sometimes, The Pucker Could Squeeze Diamonds

So, TINS, TIWFDASL at an urgent care out in Flyover Country. It was a typical afternoon, featuring a parade of sniffles, coughs, and poison ivy. Our clinic was on the south side of the road, east of Middling Sized City, and the Big Time Big Deal Hospital And Trauma Center. In other words, to get the the BTBDHATC, one would exit our driveway, and turn west (that is, LEFT!)

Abruptly, the registrar summoned me. My MA and I walked over, to behold a limp toddler. Very Not Good!

The MA escorted the male carrying the child to an exam room, and began to collect vitals. I examined the child, discovering a heartbeat (Crom be Praised!) and spontaneous respirations. The registrar collected demographic information, and I asked the adult what had happened, prior to arrival.

“Well, he started shaking, and then he stopped. He just wouldn’t wake up, so I brought him here.”

Well, the “wouldn’t wake up” part was still descriptive of the child, and I noted that I would have to call an ambulance immediately, because this could have several causes, none of them good. Indeed, “floppy child” is right up there in my Triage Catalogue Of Very Bad Things.

The adult male paused at this. “I don’t want to send him by ambulance. I’ll take him myself!”

I was surprised. I noted, “So, you *DO* realize that several of the things that caused this, could reappear, and he could stop breathing or his heart could stop. EMS is trained and equipped to deal with those things, should they occur. You, while driving, are not, right?”

He persisted. “I’ll drive him myself”.

We directed him to go there immediately, with no delay nor detour. We explicitly directed him to exit our driveway, TURN FREAKING LEFT (that is, west), and not stop until at the ED.

He stated that he understood, and would do so.

He scooped the child up, and exited the building. I sat down to chart, as well as call BTBDHATC, in order to provide them with forewarning of the sick, sick, sick child coming their way. That is, until my registrar called me, excitedly, to report that this sunovabitch had turned EAST! (exactly away from the hospital) upon exiting our driveway.

WTAF!

I had the clerk print a face sheet, and called emergency dispatch. I related the above information to dispatch, along with my concern that a critically ill child was *NOT* being taken to the ED. I provided the street address we had received, as well as the contact information.

I next called the child protective services emergency number, to report the above. I was assigned a report number, which I charted, and my own name and contact information was taken.

Several hours later I received a telephone call, from a gentleman asserting he was from CPS. I asked him to confirm the report number, the child’s date of birth, name and address of our record. He did confirm all these details.

He queried me about the particulars of the child’s presentation. I supplied the requested information. I asked how the child was. The worker paused, and said, “Well, I am not allowed to provide information regarding an ongoing investigation, particularly one where the child in question has been hospitalized. I’m sorry. “

My response? “Yeah, it’s too bad you couldn’t tell me if the child had been hospitalized or anything. I understand. Thank you.”

Fun And Games · Life in Da City!

RANDOM THOUGHTS, INSTALLMENT NUMBER VIII

@The other day, my MA gave me the typical “thumbnail” report of my next patient. “(sick person of some sort”), (vitals), ….And, you know, he’s older.”

This particular soul was born TEN YEARS after I was!

@ROBOCALLS: I receive telephone calls, from time to time, from unknown numbers. Almost every one is from some computer dialed bullshit. My practice is to say “Hello”, and then begin to count ten seconds. If there is no human being on the line by then, according to my (it’s a robo call: I’m not particularly patient) timer, I hang up.

If there is some human on the line by then, they have, maybe, ten or fifteen seconds to convince me that I have any interest whatsoever in speaking to them.

And, if it’s one of those “we need to speak to you about your computer repair the other day” idiots, it depends: if I’m feeling froggy, I may stay on the line simply to trifle with them and waste their time. If I’m feeling curmudgeonly (which, to be honest, is most of the time), I hang up. In mid word.

OVERHEARD THE OTHER DAY:

Joe-Bob arrives, asking if he could get the work note written for Cletus. The clerk inquired after Cletus’ last name. Joe-Bob did not know Cletus’ last name.

She asked if Joe-Bob knew Cletus’ date of birth? “Nope.”

Cletus’ phone number?

“Nope.”

Cletus’ SSN?

(surprisingly/sarc) “Nope!”

Did Joe-Bob know the date of the visit which elicited Cletus’ work note?

(say it with me, now…) “Nope.”

She wrote down *OUR* phone number, and suggested that, once Joe-Bob rejoined Cletus, perhaps he, Joe-Bob, could invite him, Cletus, to telephone us, and at that point arrangements could be made.

@ Life Lesson: A lesson learned from hard experience: No matter how frequently you look at your watch, in the middle of an awful shift, it is still 3 o’clock!

Life in Da City!

Questions Above My Pay Grade

A long, long time ago, back in Da City, I had left EMS, and was employed as a nursing house supervisor. In the course of my rounds, I stopped by ER. The staff chatted with me, revealed that things appeared to be under control, and they needed for nothing at that time.

One of the staff nurses drew me aside, and murmured, “Check out the ER doc that they sent us!”

I asked, of course, “Why?”, and was told, “Never mind! Once you chat with him, you will know!”

I approached him, introducing myself, and asked how his night was going. I was struck by the fact that he appeared to have several freckles about his face, each with a glint as of metal. Each, in fact, about the size of a pin head. I figured that was odd, concluded my conversation, and moved on.

I subsequently encountered one of the ER nurses in the cafeteria. “What did you make of Dr. Pins?”

“Couldn’t tell you. Never seen anything like it, before!”

So, a little later that night, I cruised through ER, again. (part of my “management by wandering around” strategy). The doc asked me if he could speak to me, in private. That was odd, but, sure, whatev’s.

So, back in the physician’s office, he began to describe a patient. I mean, as in how a resident (or a midlevel) would staff a patient with an attending. He wound up with his query: what did *I* (remember: the NURSING supervisor, with no provider chops whatsoever at this time) think that the patient ought to have done?

I tried not to stutter: I really, really did. I suspect that I failed, but I did manage to observe that other physicians had ordered this, or that test, and not uncommonly had discharged the patient with a prescription for this, that, or the other thing.

The following afternoon, my boss, the afternoon Nursing Director, and I had a chat. A lengthy chat. About Dr. Pins.

Life in Da City! · Pains in my Fifth Point of Contact

The Sunshine Rule, Revisited

As you may recall, my go-to principle is that everybody brings sunshine into my life. Sometimes, that is when a soul arrives……

So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© one sunny Saturday morning, and my very first child of Ghawd rolled his eyes when I asked, “do you have any allergies to medication?”, which is part of my Mark I-Mod Ø interview question set.

My inattentive friend responded, “Of course I have allergies! My nose has been stuffy and runny for a week!”

I tried it, once more. “Do you have any MEDICATION allergies?”

“I dunno”

(sigh) “Are you taking any prescription medication?”

“Yeah….”

“Can you tell me what medication you are taking?”

“Nope. Cannot remember.” (eye roll)

I concluded that further interview would waste my time and annoy this gentleman, further. And so, a surly exam followed.

COMMENTARY: Simply so you know, IDGAF what you are allergic to, nor do I care what medication you are/are not taking, despite your physician’s goading, instruction, entreaties, or hectoring.

I *DO* care, very much, that I do *NOT* prescribe prescribe a medication that will cause your immune system to turn you into a fireball. Similarly, I really, really do *NOT* want to prescribe a medication that, in concert with whatever the (expletive) you are, indeed, taking, will perhaps form a binary explosive in your bloodstream. Because you could not/would not tell me whatever else you are, indeed, taking.

So, to me, this sort of thing is kind of important. Please, try to keep up.