I committed one of the ER Doc Sins Today

It’s never good when you get an after-hours call from the ED you work in.  There I was, enjoying my day off, when my wife hailed me: "It’s Doctor Lantz on the phone".

Lantz: "Hey, uh, we’ve got you penciled in today for the 5 PM shift, in place of Dr. X".

Me, looking at watch and noticing it’s 5:25: "Oh, phoo."  Remembers discussing trade with X, but no details emerge.

Lantz: "So, you won’t be here 25 minutes ago?"

Me: "I’ll be there as soon as I can."

Fortunately for me, he’s a reliable guy and did an excellent job covering my absence.  This is one of the Cardinal Sins of the ER Doc.  You can have one about once a year and not show up on the radar, and that’s about my score to date.

Some of you are asking yourselves, "How can you forget to go to work?"  The answer is seven shift start times and no set pattern of shift days off or on, plus the inevitable trades.  That’s how.

So, yes, I screwed up and it bothers me.  Confession is supposed to be good for the soul, or the conscience, or something.


  1. Mrs. Fred says:

    There’s an old saying that comes to mind: Every dog gets one bite. We ALL forget things from time to time, and I guess it was your turn.
    Don’t beat yourself up about this. It’s a universal event.

  2. If you carefully put all these commitments on a PDA, you’ll have additional evidence that it was your fault when you forget. (Plus the fun of saying, “How could I have missed that alarm when it sounded?”)
    – The Precision Blogger

  3. Hey, if that’s the worst ER doc mistake you make this year, consider yourself lucky.

    At least the call didn’t start, “Do you remember that patient you sent home…”

  4. Ok, if they had you penciled in, shouldn’t the other doctor have made sure the switch was for sure?

    I’d be kicking myself too. I’m never late anywhere for any reason and the idea of being expected 25 min earlier would have sent me into an anxiety attack!

    I will be thinking about you this evening. My son has a corneal abrasion. Pediatrician has no after hours ..they have no opening s tomorrow …they said take him to the ER where they have the minor emergency care center. Joy oh joy.

    I wish the kid who poked him in the eye (on purpose) had to go instead of us!!!!

  5. We have one partner that does this quite often. He has earned the nickname “Waldo.” And we call them “Where’s Waldo shifts.” He’s practicing for when he’s old enough to really be demented.

  6. Symtym …that’s scary! If he’s that casual with his showing up at work ..then …how casual is he with his patients & their care?

    Grunt Doc … I really was thinking about you in the ER tonight! And wishing you were the doc! The ER doc I had wasn’t so nice! He was nice to my son, just not to me. (Why didn’t you bring him in right when this happened?!?! …uh, because he wasn’t complaining about it and it didn’t look bad??)
    BIG scratch on the cornea & it’s infected. He (my son) still claims it doesn’t hurt. I wish I had his pain tolerance!

  7. CHenry says:

    Money penalties have a way of making the chronically forgetful remember. One free miss, but after that a substantial docking, like say $1,000, to be donated to a charity of the covering doctor’s choosing.