Archives for February 16, 2005

Spousal Wisdom

Speaking with the wife, while deciding who should sit in the middle seat:

(me): “You’re going to wind up sitting next to some old guy, who wants to tell you his life story”.

(wife): “Yes, and it’ll be you”.

Ouch! Game, set and match!


“Rude people suck” was the statement, and though that’s not a particulalry gentle way to put it I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment. That the statement is itself rude is one of the ironies of life.

By rude, I mean the following definition (via

1. Lacking the graces and refinement of civilized life; uncouth.
3. Ill-mannered; discourteous: rude behavior.

Like most people, I encounter the majority of rude behavior at work (after all, once we’re through with school we can associate with, or more precisely dissociate ourselves from, rude and obnoxious people. As I work in a ED, I expect people to be under stress, perhaps not tempering their speech in ways they might under better circumstances.

The difference between rude people and those who are rude ‘due to the moment’ is that rude people show no remorse for their behavior, while regular, decent folks will recognize a line was crossed and apologise, in one way or another.

Then we get to the heart of the matter, at least for me, which is what to do with / about the deliberately rude patient. The rude family I can deal with, usually just by exclusion (waiting room = penalty box). The rude patient is a challenge both personally and professionally, to everyone on the staff.

(An aside: if you’re rude as a family member of the patient you’re doing your loved one a disservice. We’re all pros and will do our jobs, but avoiding you, and therefore the patient is only natural. It won’t result in bad care, but it can become a vicious cycle of avoidance, ‘nobody is coming in to check on him’, etc).

I believe somewhat in Karma, more in the “what comes around goes around” sort of way, and realize life will exact a revenge on boors far exceeding my ability, but it’s hard to remember that when someone who needs your help calls you a string of four letter words.

I and some nurses were discussing this recently, and the theme of the discussion was that the rude behavior of our patients would get them denied service in pretty much any other place (merchandise return desks excluded, more’s the pity). The rest of the discussion involved why people feel free to be abusive to us, and we decided it’s because they can. They know we cannot throw them out or deny service because of rude, obnoxious behavior, we have to do our best even when they’re at their worst.

Perhaps you have another reason, or better yet a meaningful way to deal with rudeness?

AAEM 11th Scientific Assembly, Day One

I’m at the AAEM Scientific Assembly, roughing it in La Jolla, CA! I’d link to the program, but it’s horrible .pdf files, and they’re not for the web.

We arrived late, after getting a lot of time to study the I-5 concrete parking lot. I like to fly into John Wayne Airport (SNA) to get to SoCal, as it’s a world better and cheaper than San Diego, and a lot more friendly then LAX. However, it usually means more driving. We, you ask? Yes, for the first time ever I’ve brought my wife to a meeting, and she’s enjoying the vacation, reading and relaxing.

This is my first AAEM meeting, and so far so good. I’m attending a ‘pre-conference conference’ on death and dying issues, required to keep California Licensure (unless you’re a pathologist or a radiologist, opening a whole can of slams). As for first impressions of AAEM, the lectures don’t seem quite as remedial as those of the two ACEP meetings I’ve been to, but time will tell (we’re not to the ‘real’ conference yet).

More to follow.