One thing I really love about blogging is how reading someone else's post based on their experiences can trigger memories of your own and inspire you to write about something else.
I've been so neglectful the last week or so since school started---both in posting and reading. I'm working my way through everybody's blogs trying to catch up this weekend, so thanks for your patience!
Today while reading my friend Ma Titwonky's blog, I stopped to comment on a post that she wrote a couple of days ago about the absolute hell she went through trying to get a doctor's appointment.
If you haven't taken the time to visit her blog Enema Portal for Groan Ups, I highly recommend it! Especially if you want a very brilliant, funny and no-nonsense commentary on various topics in the news and everyday life. I might not agree with everything she writes, but I truly admire her panache.
Her latest post has coined the phrase "The League of People With Sh*t For Brains" which struck me as very funny.
When she wrote in her entry about her troubles getting an appointment with her doc, she said:
"So I call the professional with whom I wish to make the appointment. Naturally I have to go through the options menu. I did notice that they removed the ridiculous line, “if this is a TRUE medical emergency, please hang up and dial 911.” I referenced this quote to a number of the staff and asked how many fake medical emergencies they got. No one had an answer… no, let me amend that. None of the staff even had a clue to what I was referring. I know this because that kind of puzzled blank stare cannot be faked. Or maybe they just don’t know how to adequately deal with smart asses. Yeah, that’s probably it."
I started to comment about the "ridiculous line" regarding TRUE medical emergencies, but halfway through it, I realized that my comment was so long it really could be worked into its own post!
Smooches to you Ma Titwonky! Hope you don't mind my hijacking your post!
Back in the days before "Options menus", when my little guy was a little tadpole swimming in his own universe that was my uterus, I worked nights at an answering service that catered primarily to the medical community after hours. We served a couple of hundred doctors and/or HMO clinics around the metro area.
Most doctors' offices are open 9-5 Monday through Friday (unless they are after-hour clinics), and sometimes with morning hours on Saturday. After hours, there are doctors who rotate taking over each other's practices and are on what is called "on call". For urgent calls.
I'm not trying to be condescending---I'm hoping that most of the people who read my blog already know this, but really---I mean it---there is, what Ma Titwonky calls, "The League of People with Sh*t for Brains".
I totally "get" the message on the voicemail/options menu that says "If this is a TRUE medical emergency, hang up and call 911".
This is why:
Because you have to rein in the dolts and give them a good reality check and/or bitchslapping.
During my time at the answering service (and over the years I can only imagine it's gotten worse) some people think that their family doctor has no life and is there to serve them 24/7 to fit THEIR schedules.
They might insist that their problem is an "emergency" after hours when it comes to talking to the doc, but not such an "emergency" that they're willing to call 911. I mean, if you think you're having a heart attack, you aren't really going to call your doc, are you? You're going to call 911!
Let me explain.
About 5% of the total calls that come in at night could be considered really "urgent".
These included calls like food or other poisoning, an accident where someone needs stitches or has a broken bone, a small child that might have suddenly spiked a high fever out of the blue, or in one memorable case, a woman who called and said to me, "I'm having what is like a really heavy period".
Caller: "I had a hysterectomy 5 years ago!"
These calls were usually to get primary care authorization to go to the emergency room for insurance purposes.
Most doctors on the service would have a protocol, which would come up on the screen whenever we'd get a forwarded call.
It was usually like this:
Urgent: Page the doctor.
Not bleeding or dying: Save for when the doc checks in for messages (which the on-call doc did every couple of hours or so).
Save: Non-urgent calls that can be picked up by the office in the morning.
95% of the calls every night were from "The League of People With Sh*t For Brains".
They went like this:
Call comes in at 8pm. "My pharmacy closes in an hour and I'm out of refills on my prescription!"
Um, like you didn't know this a day or so ago when you only had a couple of pills left?
Call comes in on Friday after hours. "I've been sick with the flu all week and I think I need to talk to the doctor!"
This is the kind of asshat who has gone to work all week, coughed germs all over his co-workers and thinks the doc will prescribe something over the phone if he calls on the weekend so he can save his sick days to go to the Teste Festival in Missoula Montana.
And my personal favorite...
Call comes in around 9pm. "I'm not feeling well and I need to know right away if the doc has anything available first thing in the morning so I can plan my day around it! I need to know now!!!"
Doh. Let me page the doctor on call this week for your personal doctor's schedule and get back with ya, K? Hahahahaha!
Of course, back in the answering service days, if the doc didn't call back within 20 minutes or so, we'd get repeated calls about these "emergencies" and be subjected to all kinds of verbal abuse. If we broke down over it and paged a doc, we'd get our heads handed to us on a platter.
It was "no win" for us.
I LOVE the fact that docs' office messages say "If this is a TRUE emergency, hang up the phone and call 911".
No BS. Nobody to argue with or verbally abuse.
Helps give the "League" a reality check, you know?
If you think the sniffles you've had all week are an after-hours emergency, go to the ER, you doof! And be prepared to pay for it when your insurance company refuses to pay the emergency fees!