Friday, December 23, 2011

What did I do wrong??

One thing that really bothered me during residency was when I did something that a patient didn't like, and then the patient told on me to the attending when I was out of the room. I can think of two occasions when this has happened and it pissed me off bigtime.

I remember there was one interaction I had with a patient where I actually thought I was completely hitting it off with him, then he complained to the attending about one specific thing I did. That especially bothered me because I felt like I had completely misread a situation. Sort of like in school when you think someone likes you and they totally don't.

The patient was a young guy with long hair who kind of had a bit of a hippie look to him. He seemed like a very nice, laid back guy. Let me reproduce part of our interaction and tell me what you think I did that upset him so badly.

Mr. Hippie: "I have pain in my mid-back, right below that bump."

Me: "You mean your scapula?"

Mr. Hippie: "I don't know what it's called."

Me: "It's called your scapula." [types this into note]

Mr. Hippie: "Okay."

Me: "So is there anything you take for the pain?"

Mr. Hippie: "I smoke marijuana."

Me: [continues typing into note] "Does that help?"

Mr. Hippie: "Sometimes."

Me: "How often do you smoke marijuana."

Mr. Hippie: "Maybe two or three times a week."

There is a knock on the door. It is the attending.

Me: "Excuse me for a moment."

I go outside and tell the attending about the patient. Since there's another patient waiting and we're getting really backed up, he agrees to further evaluate Mr. Hippie's back pain while I see the next patient. We both go back into the room together.

Attending: "Hi, I'm Dr. Attending. I'm going to take you into a different room to examine your back further."

Mr. Hippie: "Oh. Okay."

Me: "Oh wait." [laughs] "You forgot all his paperwork." [hands Attending a stack of papers that Mr. Hippie had filled out]

Attending: "Oh great, thank you very much."

Me: "Bye, Mr. Hippie. It was very nice meeting you."

So can you figure out what horrible thing I did/said that so greatly offended Mr. Hippie?


  1. You told him its called a scapula. You bitch!

  2. You made him feel inferior by using your big doctor words rather than the generic "back" because "back" should cover everything. Jeeze!

  3. Clearly you were too inquisitive about his marijuana use! Next time, don't ask! Ha.

  4. Maybe call it a shoulder blade next time?

  5. Laugh followed by 'paperwork'.
    He could have misconstrued that for paper used for making joints.
    Also scapula instead of shoulder blade could have very well angered him.

  6. Scapula. But that's just bitchy of him. Everyone uses big words at work, and outsiders always have trouble. Does that mean i should be pissy at my car mechanic for his words? ... i thought not...

  7. Called him Mr. when he was a Miss? I had a patient go ballistic on one of our MAs because she referred to the patient as "Ma'am". Patient said "Ma'am" was completely disrespectful, equivalent to saying "Bitch".

    1. Sir and Ma'am are used all the time in the South. I guess it's a regional thing.

  8. The typing. Either you weren't looking him in the eye enough, or he didn't want you to record his MJ use.

  9. You didn't offend Mr. Hippie. He was just blaaazzzeed.

  10. My guess would be with the big word again.

    I feel you on this one... I did a stint in a hospital where according to my preceptor my patients didn't like me... and I couldn't tell from my interactions with them. I was pretty much paranoid thereafter. (I was especially unhappy about the one who claimed I never told him I was a student, whereas I KNOW I told him because I remember him complaining about the number of students who had seen him.)

  11. He thought you were condescending because you told him it was his scapula.

  12. I agree With OLD MD Girl, friggin hippies....I mean personally...You would have thought the fact that you didnt get all uptight about his illict drug use that, that would have bought you some brownie points. What an ass.

  13. Either the scapula comment, or the typing?