Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why is this so hard to understand?

Recent conversation with a patient right after lunch:

Hey, what can I do for you?

I don't feel good, I'm having some pain in my chest. Can you take my blood pressure?

Didn't you have some chest pain while I was out and go to the ED?


What happened?

They said it was heartburn and gave me a prescription for Zantac.

Does this feel the same? (taking BP as we talk)


Well, your BP is 130/82 and your pulse is 88. When did you last take the Zantac?

Oh, I ran out and haven't gotten anymore.

Well, since you just ate lunch and don't have any other symptoms, I think you are just having more heartburn. You need to see your doctor and have it treated.

(blank stare)

Do you have a doctor?

(blank stare)

Where do you go when you are sick?

(blank stare)

You really need a doctor. You may have something more serious than just plain heartburn. You could have an ulcer or acid reflux disease......

Why didn't they test me for all that when I was in the emergency room?

Well, you went in with chest pain. They determined it wasn't a heart attack or some other emergency. They released you so you could see your doctor for treatment.

But why didn't they......

The emergency department treats emergencies. They determined your chest pain wasn't an emergency. They don't treat chronic problems.

(blank stare)

You see your doctor for non emergency problems--not the emergency department. They treat emergencies. Your heartburn wasn't an emergency.

(blank stare)

(dying a little inside) Here's some Tums and a list of local doctors.........

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