The incidence of this nefarious condition is on the rise, and I have a front row seat in the emergency department. It targets the ostensibly “nice” doctor who is known to staff as the approachable type, usually during the time she has allotted to dictate onerous electronic medical records. The natural history of the illness causes rapid degeneration of the victim into a mumbling, incomprehensible jerk over a period of minutes. The script goes something like this:
Volunteer: Can room 8 have a glass of water?
MD: Unfortunately no, at least not until her CT results are back. Thanks for advocating for her.
RN#1: Room 8 is asking for water.
MD: I know, you’re the second to ask me. We need to wait for her CT results before letting her have fluids, but please let her know I’ll hydrate her via the IV in the interim. Since I have to dictate every chart, may I ask that you note food requests in the comments section on the tracking board so it won’t interrupt my flow in the future? Thanks!
Tech: Can I bring room 8 a food tray?
MD: Sorry, no. You are the third to ask me that. I’d like to be approachable without being interruptable, so how about any requests short of the patient coding being left in the comments from here on out.
RN#2: Room 8’s daughter wanted a glass of juice.
MD: She’s diabetic, so juice is verboten. And we are waiting for her CT, so no POs for now. If she’s not coding, please communicate via the comments on the tracking board.
Patient’s niece, walking past two RNs directly to MD desk: Can my aunt have a cup of water?
* * * * *
Two hours after her shift, the physician has finally finished dictating the charts she was unable to complete during her shift.
She arrives home and sits down to eat with her family, a nice home-made meal her spouse has prepared with a topped-off glass of red wine at her place-setting. The wine glass is about to hit her lips when...
Kid #1: Mooom! Dad made the fish in the teriyaki sauce I don’t like! Will you make me a PB&J sandwich instead?
Spouse: I’ll make it, but I wish you’d asked before mom got home.
Kid#1: No, dad, you don’t trim the crusts the way mom does. And you put the jelly and the peanut butter on the same piece of bread. It’s gross. Each one needs to start on a different side and meet in the middle. Like how you lecture us about compromise.
MD: It’s fine. I’ll get it.
Kid#2: Now that you’re getting up anyway mom, will you make me some twisty pasta?
Kid#1: If you’re going to make pasta anyway, can you make me gnocchi?
Spouse: Which one of us wanted kids again?
MD: I’m pretty sure I only wanted a netflix subscription.