In the ED we don’t get many compliments. It goes with the job, I suppose, and with an ever-coarsening, ‘Me’ centered society which expects to live in perfect health, forever.

That’s not to say we don’t get any compliments. There’s a board in the Nurses’ lounge with nice cards and letters from patients who were happy with their care. These generally praise their nurse (who deserves the most praise), then their doc, and the techs, etc). This is one of the nice things about working in Texas, there are still some folks who are appreciative and will express it.

I have had a couple of compliments recently, which is always a nice surprise: two patients recently asked me “for my card” and inquired as to whether I’d be their doctor. I’ve had this happen before, and it always makes me a tiny bit guilty that I’m just an ER doc, but then I remember I’d just be miserable in longitudinal patient care. So, I tell them I’m just an ER doc, I only work here, but when they come in I’ll be glad to take good care of them.

As an aside, they’re usually patients I spend about two minutes with, presenting their problems and prognosis in an ‘unvarnished truth’ sort of way. Interesting.


  1. Doc H’s rules of the road:
    1) The less critical your emergency the more you complain about the service
    2) The more you need my services the less likely you are to even recognize me later, let alone know me to thank me

  2. autolycos says:

    On the flip side, I’ve been to an ER where the ER doc complimented me on being the only “true emergency” for the day. Long story short, stepped on a broken beer bottle and haggard, worn doc had been seeing ER frequent flyers all day. I came in at the end of the shift needing 10 stitches to the sole of the foot. Chit-chatted back and forth with the doc while I was getting the wound probed and stitched. I remember thanking the ER doc fairly graciously (but it was a good 8 years ago… the memory fails in detail)

    Terse, but a good ER visit. Happened in Nebraska instead of Texas, though.

  3. autolycos, I wonder if ER Drs. only saw “True emergencies”, how many ER Drs. there would really be a need for? I have a feeling that true emergencies don’t financially support an ER dept or its staff.

  4. Cindy
    You are so right!! It is our fantasy that we sit around the ED like firemen, cleaning the equipment until someone super sick comes in…. alas only a fantasy! Still, every one likes to be treated to a thank you once in a while.

  5. Tim O'Reilly says:

    Presenting the facts in an unvarnished way is, by many of us patients, preferred. Some can’t deal with it I suppose but, speaking for myself, I’d rather have the truth up front. Then it can be dealt with.
    Regards, Tim