I actually had 4 days off this week, so I have been using power tools instead of treating those who were drunk while using power tools. However, the Mecca work is never done; I also spent a little of my free time responding to a patient complaint about one of my residents, who of course has moved away and left me to soothe the feelings.
Last years chief resident was a self proclaimed “half black, half white trash” dynamo that was one of the best residents to ever come through the program. She was bright, thorough and efficient but when it came to sensitive areas of patient counseling she was a real ball buster. As attendings, we just kind of stood back and watched… like viewing a plane crash, except in this analogy the pilot had full control. I mean what were we going to say to her? She had pulled herself up by her bootstraps to go from a trailer park to medical school and if anyone EVER had the right to tell public housing folk “the way it is” then it was her. I suppose if anyone outside myself knew how pathetic people could be it was her; it was kind of our bond, how hard we both had to work to get here, so I don’t mind handling this one complaint… not much anyway.
It was sometime near the end of her residency, a shift in Peds and our complaint comes from the mother of a 15 year old. The “child” had presented with “mouth pain” and upon examining the patient my resident found a freshly placed tongue ring.
Res- to the mother, ” uh, hmm do you know what’s in your daughter’s mouth?”
Mom- “an infection?”
Res- “yes, an infected tongue ring.”
Mom- “yeah it’s only been in a few days… I told her to gargle with salt water but she won’t.”
Res- to patient “having you been using that thing?”
Patient- nods no… looking at the floor.
Mom- “using that thing?”
Res- “yes, you know USING IT… you are suppose to wait a couple weeks.”
Mom- “you mean eating with it in?”
Res- “uh, no.” to patient, “why don’t you explain that to your mom and I’ll go get you started on some antibiotics”
The resident then comes out of the patients room, leaving the door open, and exclaims to me, “I swear, if you spent good money on a tongue ring for your teeny-bopper you should at least get a free T-shirt that says, ‘MY DAUGHTER SUCKS C**K!’ “… after which no small amount of laughter erupted. This was followed in turn by an angry outburst, of which I cannot recall the specifics, and the patient-mother fellatio team storming out of the Pediatric ER.
So now, I am answering the complaint… by letter. NO WAY could I keep a straight face on the phone.