We all have our “regular” patients, don’t we? I’m not referring to our regular diabetic wake-ups, or the guy who is working on his twenty-seventh stent, or the COPDer who can’t breath again because her power chair in kinking her 50-foot long industrial nasal cannula. No, I’m referring to the regular patients we don’t care for.
They usually stink, frequently are incontinent, and their emergent requests usually coincide with the weather or meal times.
My zone has at least half a dozen of these “regulars.” They call us, sometimes multiple times per day, and have a steady, somewhat predictable pattern of hospital preference.
I took one to a local hospital once because he was hungry and wanted a sandwich.
Most providers are mean to these people. EMS, fire, police, nurses, doctors, hospital security staff, and even custodians are mean to them.
“Oh, god. It’s you again? Go sit out front.” is what I usually hear when wheeling them in to the ER.
Sure, they are a pain in the ass. They tie up the system with their nonexistent complaints. They waste resources. In my system, if you call, you go to the hospital. Unless of course, you don’t want to.
That’s just how we do it where I work. And I’m okay with that.
So what’s the harm in being nice to the regulars?
I make it a point to be overly nice to them. Slimm says I exhaust my “nice tank” on them, and have to have a soda to refill it. I don’t like them, but I sure can fake it pretty well.
I’ve gotten to know several regulars, and they can (usually) remember me by name (if they are sober enough). They tell me stories about their families that don’t want anything to do with them. They tell me they quit drinking yesterday though their gin breath. They sometimes ask me if they can smoke before we go inside the hospital, and I usually let them. They point out their good veins for the students, and gladly give themselves up, like a live IV arm, for practice.
Sometimes I ask what their complaint is, but usually not. Their complaint doesn’t matter. They just want someone to sit with them for a short while, and to be nice to them. I am happy to make their day, even if it’s at the expense of my “nice tank.”
Sure, I hate running the call just as much as the next guy, and I know these people are simply a tax on our system. But, as a wise mentor once said: “you’re gonna run the call, so just shut up and run it well.”
They are people too, just like the old ladies that just want their hand held.