Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What is a "TRUE" Medical Emergency?

Whatever happened to the time when physician's office phones were answered by a friendly, caring person instead of  today's  ominous recorded voice intoning: "If this is a TRUE medical emergency hang up and dial 911? " I suppose this is a lame-brained attempt to limit liability, but it does raise some interesting questions.

There is so much emotional leakage from the medical office worker making these recordings. Everytime I listen to my gastroenterologist's phone menu, a new negative emotion becomes apparent. I get the stressed, pressured, burned out  feeling backed up with a generalized malaise and lack of concern. I don't think this is what the good doctors want to communicate to their patients, but back to the TRUE medical emergency questions.

What if a no good, lying, sociopathic pharmaceutical company executive crashed their corporate jet and was sprawled out on the tarmac like a pile of road kill?  Is this a "TRUE" emergency even though the victims were not truthful and  filled with falsehoods? I don't know. I guess it's time to call the doctors office again and run through that gauntlet of phone prompts to make a determination. If we do manage to get through to the good doctor, how can we respect his assessment skills or diagnostic acumen if he is too lazy to even find someone to answer the phone?

Although obscured by the abrupt interruption of life, trauma always presents opportunity for redemption and renewal of life even if it is radically different from the pre trauma persona. Hopefully, a taste of suffering will enable the pharma big shot to imagine the suffering of others and the evils of cashing in on the pain and vulnerabilities of others that happen to be less fortunate. (So sorry for my crude editorializing, sometimes I get carried away. Blame it on the aging process.)

What happens if a false medical emergency transitions to a true medical emergency while the listener is occupied with the multiple phone prompt choices?  I tried to answer this for myself by dialing 911 when I was about 6 phone prompts into the menu and all I got was that annoying high pitched screech of electronic mayhem. It was then that I realized that in my shock and illness induced fogginess that I neglected to hang up as the uncaring smart alecky voice instructed. OOPS... my bad.

In the good old days we had a better way of classifying emergency cases. The really TRUE emergencies were called "Ambulance Cases" and even had a dedicated entrance to the hospital that was actually a big garage door with a big sign above that cleverly announced: AMBULANCE CASES.  Yesterday's paramedics were ambulance drivers. There were no trauma bays or fancy electronic gizmos standing by, just a group of doctors and nurses that would do anything to save  a patient's life.

Does that ambulance case need blood? If his type matches mine, we will get a direct transfusion going STAT. Here is my arm and that antecubital vein is ripe for harvesting so stab away with that 16 gauge  needle. I'm glad I could help and no I could care less what insurance carrier the patient has.

The many TRUE emergencies that did survive back in the good old days is truly astounding. Sometimes the caring and dedication of the doctors and nurses worked miracles and no we did not have any of those new-fangled telephone answering systems. Thank God I was a nurse back in the dark ages before TRUE medical emergencies were even thought of.


  1. I hate those stupid phone menus! Pick up the dang phone, answer it then transfer me to a department if need be