• linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    Words of wisdom: ‘Patients don’t choose when they get sick’

    Christopher Bayne, MDChristopher Bayne, MD

    UT Blogger Profile

    Dr. Bayne is a chief resident in urology at George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, Washington.

     

    “Patients don't choose when they get sick,” a senior attending once told me over the phone on a midnight of my second year of residency. A pillow muffled his scratchy voice as it downshifted to a deep drag through the progression of the sentence.

    Read: Out-of-control drug pricing requires creative solutions

    Patients don't choose when they get sick. If you’ve ever taken call, you know this to be true. Patients get sick. They get sick at 2 in the morning, not 2 in the afternoon. Several times, my pager has beeped as soon as I have sat on the toilet. I’ve stopped to help a patient who went into cardiac arrest in front of the hospital cafeteria only to have it close during the minute I intervened before the code team arrived.

    After 9 o’clock at night, my hospital funnels exiting traffic through the emergency room waiting room. Leaving the hospital every night becomes a bit of a mental cage match: Look up, see someone you know, and you may never get home.

    On this one particular night, I looked up. I spotted a familiar patient sitting in the waiting room with his wife. I had discharged him a few weeks earlier following his recovery from a large cancer surgery. His clothes told me he had spent the day on his couch. His wife had two hands wrapped around one of his.

    Our eyes locked. I wasn’t on call. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education doesn’t have guidelines for situations like these.

    Also see - Urology mentors: For many, the quest begins at home

    I greased the wheels and got my patient and his wife in an exam room. We talked about how he had been at home and what was wrong now. I made a differential diagnosis, ordered some tests, and called my attending. After entering admission orders and writing a note, I left the hospital, this time detouring through the ambulance bay.

    Next: ' “Off the clock” and “off call” don’t really exist.'

    0 Comments

    You must be signed in to leave a comment. Registering is fast and free!

    All comments must follow the ModernMedicine Network community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated. ModernMedicine reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part,in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

    • No comments available

    Poll

    View Results