20 July 2008

Identity Crisis

Though I can understand the mutual animosity that sometimes happens between nurses and physicians, I still hate it. One of the most annoying recurring themes of our emergency room is that the patient charts would be scattered among the four winds, and sooner or later various groups would need to either do their rounds or orders.
Me to a nurse: Sir, I just need to borrow the chart of (patient)...
Nurse to me: (Without looking up) Di ko siya patient tignan mo list ko (He's not my patient check my list)
(points to handwritten list of patients taped to a wall)
Me: Uh, okay. (I'm pretty sure you were decked to him, but hey, whatever.)
Nurse to another nurse: Ha ha ha, ay patient ko pala siya (turns out he's my patient)
Me, from afar: F&@@# s@#!
Listen, I don't know you and you don't know me. Wouldn't it be great if you had a default level of courtesy that you offered to any human being who crossed your path? Isn't that just a given as a citizen of the earth? Wouldn't it be moreso now that you're in a service industry?

The truth is, I'd rather not tarnish my memory of the dedicated nurses with these trolls, because there's a lot of the former. The problem is, even when they're golden, it turns out I still don't know them. One of the perks (for all it's worth) of being part of the physician's team is you get your name mentioned a lot during surgery, especially if the resident is one of your friends or the senior likes teasing you with questions about your life or about the case you're assisting on. So it's easy to pick up your name and soon the nurse assist will call you by name as well. So during a particularly long intra-operative T-tube cholangiogram we were all sitting ducks and this adorable nurse shares with me the full details of her love life (uh... She had a boyfriend whom she loved but was a bit stalker-y and embarrassing, and a romantic older suitor whom she kind of liked and she was torn). I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her and giving her advice about who sounded like a winner. The problem was, I had no idea what her first or last name was. Surgeons should really announce those things upfront for my benefit, ha ha ha.

As luck would have it, that would not be my last encounter with her, because the operating rooms they're assigned to are fairly consistent. And the more we talked, the more I was embarrassed not to know her name at all despite knowing her favorite song and her two lovers.

Outside the operating room, we have our nameplates for easy identification. The nurse receptionist at the outpatient department was a really nice guy, who for some reason I couldn't pick up the name of, despite him calling me by my first name all the time. The resident couldn't really help me out either, since he didn't call him by name. There were no other nurses working in that department, so no colleagues of his that would mention his name. I felt bad about it (again) because he was really friendly, sort of the antithesis of those bastards at the emergency room, and was always encouraging us with how many charts were left to look over in the OPD. "Fifteen na lang!!!"

So it's been more than a year since I graduated and I found myself wandering the registrar's office for some administrative concerns, and I happen to see him. "Doctor Mark!" He calls out to me. Shit. HE KNEW MY NAME!!! Without my nameplate and everything! That is fantastic. We shot the breeze for a while and he wished me well, and I him. You know, nurses should wear full nameplates all the time for my benefit, ha ha ha.

Being a courteous and amiable person, if you're lucky with your company, can really help lighten the load. I would still have been able to do my job with no problem if these kind nurses were replaced by dickheads but I'm pretty sure I would have been miserable about it (bloodshot eyes, hair sticking out in all directions, smoke pouring out of ears). Perhaps my lesson should be asking their name on my first encounter.

This is my entry to The Blog Rounds 16th Edition: Unsung Heroes hosted by Dr. Gigi.


gigi said...

I thought I am the only one afflicted with this. I am quite poor with names myself, so I can relate to this post.

Also, I used to really misunderstand the nurses, thinking that they'd not rather waste their time on clerks and interns who are supposedly at the bottom of the totem pole. This rather immature view changed soon enough: I certainly agree that there are a whole lot of dedicated nurses compared to the "trolls". :D

Thanks very much for taking part in TBR-16. My round-up is here. BTW, congratulations on passing the first step of the MLE.

MerryCherry, MD said...

You better know his name soooon. Hehe ;)

At least you wrote a blog about him. That's more than enough, I think.

Ligaya said...

Hehehe, I *think* the nurses look at us the same way: there are "troll" doctors and, um, non-troll doctors.

Bravo to all the non-trolls!!

Got meloinks? said...

naku ako rin. i you and doc gigi have trouble with names.I to the point that sometimes i try to attach a mnemonic to the person. hehehe.

i know of a jcia-accredited hopsital(duh) where the slightest mistake can elicit incident and counter incident reports. paramihan ng incident reports and paper work.

caryn said...

i've heard a lot about this issue between doctors and nurses, but ididn't know it was a really big issue, until i heard my doctor friends complain about them. ;-)

noble pig said...

As my husband is a physician, he too tells many unfortunate stories as you have told. I don't get it really, what is the point of the rudeness.