Word to the Wise

When you wind up in the ED, please consider the following:

Your Doctor is your Doctor, not your waiter. “Will you be waiting on me” is the wrong question.

Your doctor will not really mind being called doc. He will mind being called asshole. Your penalty depends on your problem.

Do not call your nurse “bitch” then act surprised when you don’t get pain medicine.

The Doc doesn’t care where you parked or that it’s paid. Deal with it.

Have a clue as to why you came, and be able to express it in three or fewer sentences. “You’re the doctor, you figure it out” will not cause the doc to laugh. We’ve heard it all. Ditto “an ambulance”.

The gown goes on with the split in the back. And not over three layers of clothing.

Practice being able to answer a direct question: “Yes” and “No” are perfectly reasonable answers.

We really don’t care that your neighbor is the chairman of the hospital board. Unless he comes in with you and holds your hand, you’re a patient. If he does come in holding your hand, you’re a painful patient, and we’re not going to enjoy taking care of you.

We care about you, really. Don’t make us regret it by asking for 2 weeks off for your sore throat, or by asking for us to fill out your disability forms. Or by calling your nurse names. Big mistake.

Yes, we know you get medicaid if you are pregnant. Go to the Health Department and get a test, don’t fake ‘abdominal pain’ to get a test.

If you take an ambulance to the hospital for your paper cut, expect to wait in the waiting room.

We do not call the waiting room the penalty box, but there’s a committee considering it.

We understand you don’t plan for emergencies. Behaving badly doesn’t reflect well upon you, and doesn’t make us care more.

Your litany of complaints about all your prior docs does not endear you to your current doc.

The louder you get the less we want to deal with you.

If you take a medication, go write it down, now, and put it into your wallet/purse/whatever. “It’s a small white pill” narrows it down to about 2 billion medicines.

“You have it in my records” is not a usable dodge for the above. It’s your responsibility to keep track of, not ours.

Yes, I know your doctor told you “..and have them call me when you get there”. Even money says when I call your doc they’re going to tell me you’re a PITA and to do what I want.

Never, ever lie to your ER nurse. Their BS detectors are excellent, and you lose credibility when you lie. Same for the docs, but we have fewer direct ways to show displeasure.

There’s more, but if I give it all to you now, why do you keep reading?


  1. This info should probably be handed to all incoming patients — in the appropriate language. However, those of us who have access to it will just remember and will act accordingly.

  2. Saddly even if we handed out this information there are still tons of assholes out there that think that the ER is their one chance in life to be waited on hand and foot. Just because ERs in this country are obligated to treat everyone does not mean that patients should be allowed to abuse the staff.

  3. Good advice, thanks for the insight.

    BTW, I think your site is lovely and didn’t have the pleasure of seeing the logo/banner that someone thought looked like a teen’s site banner.

  4. You continue to crack me up! I passed these around the ER last night and we all had a good laugh. Especially after we had the police take away a “gentleman” who was inappropriate with one of our nurses. Rule number one in our ER- keep the nurses happy!!

  5. No one teaches people how to be patients.
    No one teaches people how to describe their symptoms.
    No one teaches people what questions they should be asking their physicians.
    No one teaches people how to keep track of their meds or even to carry emergency information in their wallets.

    In the “old” days, doctors were God. They listened to patient complaints with pity because the poor fools didn’t go to 4 years of med school and 4 years of residency training and don’t know how to do doctor speak. Doctors know better, they were told.

    This is a new era and has been ever since the advent of “managed care.” People need to be taught how to get adequate medical care in this new era. Who’s going to teach them?

    P.S. your redesigned website looks good.

  6. Oh, come on. No one teaches people how to be patients but it’s hard to get old enough to walk on your hind legs with learning a little bit about how to be a social human.


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