Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Doctors never get sick. At least that's the illusion. The best part is we, as physicians, buy into this one ourselves. And even though I intellectually disagree with the ironman mentality... I discovered today that I'm definitely a card-carrying member of the MD hardass society.

One of the other doctors in my emergency medicine group called in sick today. She couldn't work her shift. She said. And even though I didn't talk to her, I did overhear conversations between her and my boss.

She wasn't that sick. She wasn't going to the ER, or her doctor, or whatever. She just wasn't going to work.

Meanwhile, the rest of us were scrambling to cover the ER. I was covering two areas... and one of the two areas decided to turn into a burning cesspit of sickness. Patient number 1 had a hemoglobin level of 4; which would be one third of normal. One third of normal isn't good. She was a kind of pale I hadn't seen in a while. Patient number 2 had a gi-normus mass on her right neck involving her airway. Oh, and by the way, the child had an oxygen saturation of 85% (normal = 100%) because the stupid thing had started to grow.


Now, on a good day, I like taking care of sick people. That is, after all, the whole point of becoming a doctor. But when I'm being pulled in five million different directions and I'm taking care of patients in two totally different geographic locations... at that point I'd really like to just be taking care of simple stuff, thanks. Airway impingement? Not so much.

The good news is that everyone made it out of the ER okay; the ICU players went to the ICU, the floor patients went to the floor, and everyone else stayed in the waiting room. 'Cause they weren't sick enough to get seen while I was there. So they made it out of the ER without being seen to go to their PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR tomorrow. Which was where they belonged, thankssomuch.

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