Archives for January 6, 2006


As an Emergency Room doctor I’m quite used to the completely chaotic, barely-organized environment, and while it’s not a really comforting place for me to be I handle it was well as any other (I think). However, the high-speed, get-things-done-now pace sometimes can lead to some bad habits, and one of them has recently risen to the level of Formal Irritant: interruptions while speaking.

We all need to communicate, and we all need to get things done quickly for any type of efficiency to happen. I truly get that, and operate that way myself. But, because you want to have a question answered in the shortest amount of time doesn’t mean you get to interrupt me while I’m trying to communicate with someone else. That’s called Being Rude, and well mannered people don’t do it.

Yes, please interrupt me to tell me the patient in bed 6 is coding, thanks! But, don’t interrupt me in the middle of a sentence with anyone else to ask “Is this patient’s admission full or obs?” “Can bed 3 have a box lunch?” I realize I talk a little too much, but my time is as valuable as yours, and when interrupted I have to start over, thereby taking more time (and it’s less efficient, and we’re back to the rude thing, again).

I see this throughout my ED, certainly not just with me. It’s ubiquitous. I probably interrupt people, too, but since it’s been annoying me I’m making an effort to not interrupt without real cause (like the lady in bed 6). I don’t expect anyone to wait through the Gettysburg address, but there are natural pauses in conversations when questions aren’t completely disruptive, can we all try to wait for that?

There, I feel better now.