Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Should Write a Book

I'm really thinking about it. Writing a book that is. A book about all of my experiences with patients in the hospital where I work. "That's funny," you're probably thinking. "You work in the Administration office; why would you ever even come in contact with patients?"

See, I was young and naive once too and thought that working in the office meant I'd be effectively hidden away from the human side of this job. Ha. Ha. Hahaha! That's just funny to me now. I've learned over the past couple months that in fact, working in the Admin part of the hospital makes one a target for patients actually. At least once a week or so we get some random crazy person who will wonder into our office and "Need to file a complaint with the CEO." Obviously, that's not exactly how we handle patient complaints here. You can't just walk in and demand and audience with the top execs. More often than not these are psych patients who have escaped from their rooms and found their way into our office...that or they're people who are drugged out of their minds and looking for someone to write them another prescription.

Some of these people are pretty funny (in a crazy, talking-out-of-their-head kind of way) some are kinda scary, and others are just very sad. My patience for dealing with these people is directly correlated to my mood and how busy I am at that particular moment. If it's a slow day I'll sometimes sit and listen to their ramblings for awhile. It's amazing what kinds of stories people come up with. If I'm super busy I'll just politely direct them to our Patient Relations Department, or in some cases, call Security to come haul them off.

I also get lots of phone calls. Lots and lots of calls. Sometimes two or three a day from people who either want me to give them drugs, cancel their bill (one guy told me that; he thought he just shouldn't be held responsible for the billfor his treatment), or let them in to talk to the CEO. None of which I can do.

I got a call yesterday from a lady who had "lost" her prescription and wanted me to call the pharmacy and get them to give her another bottle of pills. Are you kidding me? Now, I know I'm still pretty new to this but I didn't fall off the old apple cart yesterday! I'd say the odds that this woman truly lost her prescription and needed another one are oh...1 in 4769603746585. Give or take. Maybe she did and I'm judging her unfairly but based on the slur in her voice and the "seemingly" drug-induced, borderline incoherent rant she went on...I'm gonna go ahead and say she was already hopped up on something.

The fact that they've called the Administration Office means nothing to these people either. I'm amazed at how many people out there truly believe that as long as they call a hospital number, any hospital number, anyone who answers the phone is going to be a doctor and thus capable of answering all of their questions. Our conversation went something like this (just imagine her voice with a thick Cajun accent):

Her: I'm calling cause I done lost my prescription and I'm trying to tell these people at the pharmacy and they tellin' me they can't give me another one without the doctor's approval and I just don't understand that cause don't they know I NEED these pills? I've got fluid and breathing problems and fluid and fluid on my heart and I lost my prescription and I need to get another one. I done talked to the nurse and she said she gon' investigate and talk to the doctor about what he want to do about it but I done told her I NEED this prescription and I don't understand this.
Me: Ma'am, you've already spoken to the nurse? What's the Doctor's name who wrote the prescription for you?
Her: Yeah I done spoke to the nurse and she said she gon' investigate but I don't understand why you can't just call me in another replacement cause I already told them I lost mine and I need these pills. You just gotta go get my chart and look at it and see what pills I have and call them and tell the people at the pharmacy that I need some more cause I done told them I already lost my prescription and I need some more. That's all. I don't understand this. I don't understand why you can't just look at my chart and see what that doctor gave me and give me more.
Me: Well ma'am, I'm really sorry but only doctors can write prescriptions. A nurse can't write a new prescription and I certainly can't. This is the Administration Office. I don't have access to any patient records so I can't go pull your chart. What's the Doctor's name?
Her: I don't know no doctor's name I just done told that nurse that I need this prescription and she said she gon' investigate it but I done never heard back from her and the pharmacy say they can't give me no pills without investigating. That doctor's name was Paul maybe I think.
Me: Ok, so you saw Dr. Paul? Do you know a first name? Or do you know the name of the nurse you already spoke to?
Her: Well I don't know if Paul was a first name or a last name but the nurse's name is Terry.
Me: Terry? I'm really sorry ma'am, but if you can't give me a name for the doctor who saw you I don't know exactly what you want me to do. If you've already spoken to his nurse then you need to call and follow up with her.
Her: But I done told you his name was Paul. And I was there on the 19th. All you have to do is go look at my chart and see that I was there on the 19th and what doctor I saw and then you can call in that same prescription.
Me: But ma'am, we have several hundred doctors here; I don't have any way of tracking down someone who either has a first or last name Paul. And like I said, I'm not a doctor and I don't have access to your records. Now if you can give the name of someone who treated you I'd be happy to try to track that person down for you. But otherwise I'm not sure I can help you.
Her: Well I saw a Dr. Lisa Craft once.
Me: Dr. Craft? Is she the one who wrote you the prescription?
Her: No.
Me: Did she treat you for the condition you have this prescription for?
Her: No.
Me: Did you even see this doctor at this hospital?
Her: I don't remember.
Me: *Bam bam bam. (This is where I started banging my head on my desk).
Me: Ma'am, I'm very sorry but unless you can call me back and give me the name of the person you actually saw I don't think I can help you. You need to follow up with that nurse you already spoke to.

It went on from there for quite some time more (luckily it was a slow day so I let her stay on the line and talk for awhile) before I finally transferred her. She then proceeded to call me back not once but twice, with the exact same story to which I gave her the exact same answers.

I guess when I think about it its really very sad. Its sad that people get so addicted to drugs that they get to this level of desperation. It's sad that there are still people in our society who are so ignorant of how the "system" works, and its sad that in a lot of times, these people are all alone and have no one to help guide them through it. So yes, I sometimes laugh about some of the calls I get because hey, you gotta admit some of it is pretty comical. But a lot of it is also pretty heartbreaking too.

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