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Just Doing My Job

Wooden DoctorIt happened twice this week and I’m already sick of it.

The first time it happened, I was attempting to put staples in the head of a young little boy.
I had numbed up the area and we were going to restrain him because he wouldn’t sit still on the cart. He was kicking staff, shaking his head, and screaming. The father refused to allow us to put the child in a “papoose board.” Instead, he stated that he would hold the child still. As I began placing the staples, the child screamed when he heard the staple gun clicking. The father became angry.
“Are you sure that he is numb?”
“Why don’t we numb him again just to be sure?”
After we were done injecting more anesthesia, I let the father watch me touch the child’s scalp with the edge of the needle to show that the child was not feeling any pain. We then began putting in more staples. And the kid still fought us with all he had.
By the time I was done, I had placed six staples. Unfortunately, one staple was misplaced due to the child’s kicking and screaming on the bed. I told the father that I needed to remove one staple and place another one.
He pounded his fist on the bed and yelled “you have to be fucking kidding me.”
I became a little upset. After all, he was the one who wouldn’t let us put the child in a papoose. So I asked him “What is it that you would like me to do?”
He stared me straight in the eye and said “How about doing your fucking job?”
No, I didn’t staple him in the eyeball.
I considered discharging the child without replacing the staple, but it isn’t fair to do a bad job on the child because of the dad’s uplifting demeanor.
So I had three people come in and hold the child on the bed while I quickly removed the misplaced staple and placed another one.
Then I smiled at the dad and with a big grin told him to “have a nice day.”

The second episode was a little different.
A patient came in with repetitive headaches. She had short, sharp bursts of pain to her temple and jaw lasting 30-60 seconds and then resolving spontaneously. I first considered cluster headaches, so I gave her Imitrex, but it did not improve the symptoms.
I then tried high flow oxygen and Toradol. Still no improvement.
I ordered a few tests and then gave her some IV morphine.
When I went back in the room to check on her, she still only had minor improvement. I told the patient and her husband one of the other possible diagnoses could be trigeminal neuralgia and that we would try another medication to see if it would help. Then her husband chimed in.
“Why don’t you just admit her to the hospital? It is obvious that you are not doing anything for her down here.”
“Well, actually we have done multiple blood tests, we even did a CAT scan, and she has gotten four different treatments for her headaches. I’m not sure why you feel that we are not doing anything for her.”
“Look at her. She’s still having pain.”
“I see that. I am trying to help her.”
“Well maybe you ought to try harder.”
“What would you like me to do?”
“I don’t know, I am not a doctor.”
“Well when you are saying that were not doing anything for her, there must be something different that you would like me to do. So what can I do differently to try to help?”
Then he pulls the little toothpick out of the corner of his mouth, nods his head, cracks a smirk, and says “How about you do your job?”
“Oh … well … what part of my job and my not doing correctly? I would be happy to try to help if you could just tell me what I should be doing differently.”
He furrowed his brows and said “I already told you, I’m not a doctor.”
“Okay. It’s just that when people make statements that we “are not doing anything” when we have actually done quite a bit, I want to make sure that there is no other treatment that they believe is appropriate and that we have not provided.”
Then the patient looks at me and goes “Why don’t you shut the hell up and get out of here.”
Allllrightey then.
No I didn’t bring back a strobe light and start blasting Metallica on the radio.
She got a prescription for some Tegretol and a referral to a neurologist.

And I learned to never ask a patient or a family member what they would like me to do for them.



This and all posts about patients may be fictional, may be my experiences, may be submitted by readers for publication here, or may be any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate. If you would like to have a patient story published on DrWhitecoat.com, please e-mail me.


  1. Nah, that’s a fair question. After all, it might have prompted him to recall a previous treatment that worked.

    Plus, it feels good to call their bluff.

  2. If you had a nickel for every one of those responses, your school loans would have been paid off in about 6 months.

    Personally, all I ask is that each incident of same generates an automatic 100% score on Press-Ganey, and results in the month’s lowest patient rating be thrown out.

    Then let’s see how we’re doing, when unlettered jackholes have a greater say in how we work than people with 8 years of post-graduate medical education.

    I would, reluctantly, accept being able to kick the CEO of Press-Ganey in the junk once per occurence instead, but I’m a softie like that.

    Either way would improve emergency care about 1000%, and for the same low price: $0.

  3. Sounds like the father/husband was having kidney problems and needed a foley…

  4. They just needed a Proctologist to get that redwood tree stump out of their ***hole.

  5. What both are piles of dog crap. So sick of the customer is always right nonsense. Why would you piss of the person helping YOUR relative? Like acting like a low rent Dane Cook is gonna make the magic happen any faster.

    Who knew medical doctor=wait-tron at Waffle House?

    No one makes enough money to put up with that.

    • “Who knew medical doctor=wait-tron at Waffle House?”

      It doesn’t really pay to treat a “wait-tron at Waffle House” like shit either. They can take your plate back and spit in your food.

      Courtesy and respect, tempered with humor if called for, are always a better bet than getting on your high horse and treating people like peons. Especially if you need something from those people, be it professional medical advice and care or un-spat-upon waffles.

      • No dissing those servers AT ALL. I don’t know how those folks work the weekend, over night shift and not want to take a flame thrower to the place by 4 am.

        Spit is the least of your worries, if you act like a tool at the Waffle House. Lol…..

  6. You should just say something to the effect of: Thanks for reminding me. Let me page the fairy godmother. OR I’m sorry. They didn’t teach us how to be wizards in medical school. Medicine is a scientific process. OR Have you considered the fact that you’re stressed out and yelling at me might be contributing to the problem? OR I’m sorry, sir. We’re going to have to ask you to step into the hallway. OR Take a chill pill please.

    Just some thoughts.

  7. Staple his eyeball? Why??

    What you should have stapled was his mouth!

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