Rules for Seeking Emergency Care

Having been beset by Darwin Award candidates for the past three days (with two more to go), I feel the need to vent. So without further ado, I present to you the Rules for Seeking Emergency Care, plagiarized from some long forgotten soul in an e-mail received in the distant past. If you recognize your work here, please post a note in comments and I’ll give ya credit. Do try to forgive me for modifying your opus so liberally, because frankly…some of your rules are too bitchy and cynical even for me.

1. Sick people don’t bitch. Ask for help, blankets, pain meds, an assist to the bathroom, and many other requests, yes. Bitch and complain, they do not.

2. The rule we follow is not First Come, First Served. It is Worst Come, First Served. If you are still in the waiting room and the three people who arrived after you have already been seen, it is because we have determined that they are Sick and you are Not So Sick. Probably from your incessant bitching and complaining.

3. Never start out by saying “I was searching the Internet…”

4. Just because you came in on an ambulance stretcher, we are not impressed. It only demonstrates the fact that you or a family member are able to dial 911. Whether you go straight to a room or not will depend on how Sick you are.

5. One complaint or ailment per visit, please.

6. If you are currently under treatment of a specialist for your chronic complaint, please go to the hospital where that specialist practices. We have no specialists at Podunk General Hospital. Our best ER contract Doc is a retired proctologist. If your problem requires a rectal exam, he can probably oblige you.

7. Even if you came to the ER in an ambulance, that doesn’t mean you’re going home in one. Better start making plans now for how you will get home, and I am far too busy to be your travel agent.

8. If you have one of the following: flu, stuffy nose, stomach virus or a chronic migraine – go see your personal physician in the morning. Exception – if you are like LawDog and stubbornly ignore your minor illness until it blooms into a raging case of pneumonia, we will treat your illness. We will also giggle at your stupidity. If this is your first migraine, or if you JUST ran out of your migraine medication (like within the past 24 hours), we will treat you. If you have chronic migraines and have been out of your meds for a week, shame on you. If you want Sympathy, you will find it somewhere between Shit and Syphilis in the dictionary.

9. If your child has a fever and you have not given him Tylenol or Motrin, you are too stupid to have children. Please get yourself sterilized immediately and give your kids to a childless couple looking to adopt. One dose of Tylenol an hour ago does not count.

10. If your child does have a fever and you have either put him in an ice bath or rubbed him with alcohol, see my recommendations in #9.

11. If your mother is a patient and we ask her a question, please let her answer it.

12. Do not utter the words, “It’s all in my chart.” I don’t have your chart. Probably won’t get your chart within the next hour. Just answer the question. On a similar note, don’t utter the words, “Dr. So and So knows all about it.” I got news for ya. Doctor So and So ain’t here. Shoulda gone to his office instead of the ER.

13. If you have more than five drug allergies, you are automatically a psychiatric diagnosis.

14. We can spot a drug seeker from a patient who is really in pain within 5 minutes of meeting you. How we tell the difference, I will not share with you. We are not in the business of educating drug seekers in how to be better actors. If we have refused to manage your complaint with the narcotics you seek, guess what? You’ve been spotted, Seeker. Now go bug some other ER.

15. If you meet the ambulance at the curb with your bags packed, you are not Sick enough to need an ambulance. We call it Samsonitis, and every EMT who deals with you holds a special dark place in his heart for you.

16. Do not lie to me. Ever. Once I catch you in a lie, I will assume you are lying about everything else. If there is something you don’t want to admit to in front of your boyfriend/parents/priest/parole officer – tell me so or just give me The Eye. What you tell me when they are gone, I will not share with them. It’s my duty, and it’s the law.

17. If you have diabetes and do not control it, you are committing slow suicide. Don’t get me wrong – I can sympathize with even attempted suicides. My sympathy lessens dramatically after I’ve seen you eight times in a the past two weeks.

18. If you are a female between 16 and 42 and your last menstrual period was between 28-35 days ago, and you have vaginal bleeding and abdominal cramps, guess what? You got your period. Again.

19. Do not bring your entire posse with you. One person at the bedside is all you need. If your child is dying, I will allow you to be at his side IF YOU ARE NOT INTERFERING WITH THE RESUSCITATION. If you insist on behaving like a fool, you will be escorted out.

20. At the first sign of Tachylawdia (more than 100 “Oh Lawdy” prayers a minute), we will escort you outside, regardless of how sick your family member is.

21. Every time I ask you a question, I learn more about what is wrong with you. I don’t care if I have asked the same question, phrased slightly differently, four previous times. I am asking for a reason. Please answer the question.

22. Politeness and manners beget politeness and manners. If you insist on behaving like a prick, I will still be polite and mind my manners because my Momma raised me right. But I will not be Gentle. Believe me, you want me to be Gentle.

23. “Clear” means “CLEAR.” If I have been compassionate enough to allow you to stay in the room when your family member is being resuscitated, please pause the Laying On of Hands long enough for me to defibrillate the patient. If you refuse, you may well arrive at the Pearly Gates together.

24. If you came in to the ER beaten/shot/stabbed…within 5 minutes it will be obvious to us why you were beaten/shot/stabbed. Yes, we know you were just sitting there on your front porch minding your own business while drinking a wholesome glass of milk and reading your daily Bible verse, when all of a sudden and for NO reason, Sumdood just beat/shot/stabbed you. We’re sure you are the .01% of assault victims who didn’t richly deserve your ass whipping. We believe you. Really.

25. If the thermometer tastes funny, I probably got the rectal and oral probes mixed up again.

Happy New Year, everybody! Until next time…