November 12, 2016


There are few devices that trigger a more negative Pavlovian response than a pager.  At 3 am.  When you've been asleep for 30 minutes.  Because the last page was at 2:30 am.  When you are already sleep deprived.  And running on empty.  Apparently, there is no training on what is deemed a good, or appropriate page, what can be resolved with common sense or what can wait until the morning.  The hospital isn't Walmart.  You can't just walk in and get whatever you want.  At least it shouldn't be.

Good Page with Appropriate Response
"Doctor, the patient's heart rate is in the 130s and they are having shortness of breath."
"I'm on my way."

Bad Page with Forced Appropriate Response
"Doctor, the patient is requesting mucinex."
Silence..........."Mucinex?  At 3 am? Ok"  Click.  The patient wasn't congested when I saw them at 9 pm and asked them if there was anything I could get them for the night.  Again, not Walmart.

Worst Page with Restrained Response
"Doctor, I see you put in a prescription for lowermybloodpressure.  But I am looking at the patient's blood pressure and this is normal for them. Do you still want to give it?"

What I don't say, "no, a systolic of 180 is NOT normal NOR good.  And let us not forget another nurse, perhaps someone you may know since you're both caring for the exact same patient, paged me not 45 minutes ago to tell me about the elevated blood pressure.  Perhaps she can educate you about the dangers of elevated blood pressure since she seems to know more about it than you."

What I do say, "Yes.  It's ok to give the medication."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes.  I am sure that I want the medication I ordered to be given."
"What is your name, doctor?"
"It's the one on the order."  Click.


Jess said...

I used to set my ring tone to fun songs. Then I realized that these songs would forever after trigger that pavlovian response. 10 years ago my ring tone was set to "Particle Man", and it still raises my heart rate whenever I hear it.

So now I set my ring tone to songs I don't like. Not only songs I don't like, but *obscure* songs I don't like, that aren't likely to pop up on the radio when I'm out shopping. This has the dual benefit of not only avoiding an unintentional anxiety attack, but it's added motivation to pick the damn thing up and deal with it as soon as possible. was my most recent. Then I got a new phone, and haven't set up a ringtone yet.

Isaac van Sligtenhorst, MD said...

That's pretty damned funny.

Jess said...

It's especially great when I leave the phone sitting on my desk, wander off, and it starts serenading my unsuspecting officemates.