Today I was seeing an adult female patient, and as I was exiting the room, she winked at me.  Though I’m a doctor, I couldn’t help notice she was pretty decent looking, as well.

There I was, feeling good about myself.  (‘Still attractive’ said the inner monologue).


The tests came back, and everything was fine.  I went to give the good news.

Patient: “Good News!”

me: Yes.  You will need pain medicine, as this will hurt tomorrow.  Are there any pain meds you don’t tolerate well?

Pt: “Something with a C made me itch”, and pt. has a conversation with family members, during which, !Another wink!

and then, “I’m a drug rep…” comes out in the conversation.

My flattery is found out: fake.


A drug rep.  Trained, by experience if not instruction to wink at docs.


Aah, well.  Fun while it lasted.


  1. TraumaRNDude says:

    Have you ever noticed you never see ugly drug reps? I think its a requirement to get the job.

  2. Dunno about the rest of you, but it creeps me out when I think a patient is coming on to me. It happens more often than you’d think.

    It’s not because I’m an old married guy, it’s not because most of them are heinous-looking axis-IIs, and it’s not because I’m pretty damned far from Brad Pitt (all of those things are true). It’s because the very idea of considering a patient that way is just… wrong.

    I don’t know what some of them are thinking. I mean, c’mon… this is a professional environment, not “Penthouse Letters”

  3. I think some of them are probably looking for a way to sue the hospital. I’ve always had to be pretty cautious when working with females. At one point, I was a nurse aide on a floor with nothing but L&D, Post-Partum, and nursery. There was a few occasions that I actually had to help women breast feed. Talk about weird, I was only 20 years old. I’d already had 3 years of working in nurseries so I pretty much knew all the techniques. Still pretty weird though. Just remember to think with the right “head” and don’t forget your professionalism.

  4. As a neurologist, when I see patients wink, I’m thinking it’s a tic.

  5. I think it’s important to distinguish between “disposable” and “reusable” patient interactions.

    During neither should the patient get any sense of anything but pure professionalism from you, but the feelings that get generated inside you could be quite different in the two settings. In the ED, a wink from someone you’ll never see again can make you feel good inside and not be harmful.

    A wink in the FP office from a patient you’ll be seeing every two months is going to be hugely uncomfortable.

  6. Goatwhacker says:

    I’m continually inundated with drug reps and none of them has ever winked at me. Now I’m depressed.

  7. I like all the comments there! As a young female who has worked in a variety of environments – fortunately no fathers of babies have hit on me since I’ve started working in the NICU. We have had this happen, however – and it is very unsettling to have a new father hit on a nurse…especially when the mom is there, too! I got my fair share of comments and other things from patients when working in the ER and the floors. Sometimes I could just laugh it off – other times it might have been fleetingly flattering (although nothing I would ever consider), other times it was annoying, and other times it was just downright disgusting. (Think the high or drunk patient rolled in on the stretcher – stinking, half dressed, who is hollering lewd comments and trying to grab at every female that walks by…lovely that the ER where I used to work keeps so many of these gems in the hallway…)

    Not too long ago (4th of July, I think?) I had this happen when in the local convenient store on my lunch break. I had on red scrubs – and I’d gone out to get some food. These two guys, who were obviously drunk (or high? both?) were swaggering around the soda case and started talking to me. The one guy said (in slurred speech), “‘Scuse me? Are you a doctor or a nurse?” “I’m a nurse.” “Cuz I think my heart is breaking…”

    Barf. Seriously.

    I’m not sure what I did – I think I just kinda rolled my eyes and walked away. Some people never miss a moment….!

  8. “‘Scuse me? Are you a doctor or a nurse?” “I’m a nurse.” “Cuz I think my heart is breaking…”

    Neonursechic… that’s the best laugh I’ve had all day.

    What’s sad is that weak stuff like that probably worked for someone, somewhere, sometime.

  9. Well I guess it depends, if it was a Rocephin rep AND she was attractive… LOL

    Has anyone else ever had a patient get REALLY sexually inappropriate with propofol during a procedural sedation? I have a case series of 4.

  10. We don’t use Propofol in either of the places I work; do tell of your case series.

  11. What I’ve noticed recently is an increase in those belly-button jewelry things with inappropriate phrases written on them. They are usually things like “Cum here,” (spelled just like that) or my most recent favorite, “I need pu**y” (on a female patient).

    I don’t know why they don’t take them out… it’s not like an x-rated tattoo that you can’t remove.

    Maybe it’s too much to expect a little restraint or decorum… but at least that’s not as bad as the trauma patient we found getting a hummer from his GF at the bedside (and yes, his trauma was penetrating… no pun intended).

  12. (1) Having been under the influence of propofol once, I want to know all the details of those four stories.

    (2) If anyone winks at me, I call a psych consult. Trust me, they’re nuts.

    (3) Hey Grunt Doc, maybe, just maybe…she did think you were cute? I mean, she wasn’t there in her capacity as a rep. Although if a cute doctor came to take care of me, I’d be hiding under the blanket. There is an unwritten rule: my doctors have to be old and married or they have to be female. No Harrison Fords for me. My heart couldn’t take the stress! : D

  13. Ah, it calls to mind the old “Wild, Wild West” episode (does anyone else recall these things??) where the leading man’s partner in salvation (Artemis, I think his name was) winks at the villain in order to secure the latter’s participation in some kind of sting operation. Later, of course, when said villain tries to weasel out of the trap, we discover that Artemis’ wink is, indeed, a tic.
    If your patient has been at it (pimping for a drug company, that is) long enough, the wink could of course be habitual. I must say, though, that when a patient winks at ME (male or female), I order a tox screen.

  14. Maybe she had a grapefruit before the visit…