I Don’t Care About You And That’s The Tooth

, , | Healthy | January 16, 2019

(I’m studying dentistry in France. Like every fourth- to sixth-year students, I work at the dental clinic, which is split into different wards with different dental fields: surgery, emergencies, radiology, etc. The way it is set up is that without A. having been seen in any other ward or B. a letter of referral from your dentist, we cannot remove your tooth, no matter how adamant you are on wanting to have it removed. We’re supervised by professors and have to get an OK from them to do anything, but we do all the work. Unlike most of my fellow students, I don’t take crap from anyone and am not scared to talk back to disrespectful or unruly patients. That led to me being called to talk to them every time one of my friends feel like they can’t handle it and don’t want to call a professor just because of that. Late one afternoon, a guy comes up to the surgery ward wanting us to remove one of his teeth. A friend briefly talks to him then comes and gets me because the guy refuses to understand what he’s telling him.)

Patient: “You gotta remove it! It hurts so bad!”

Me: “I get it, but I just looked at your file and it’s the first time you’ve ever been here. We don’t even have an X-ray or anything. We can’t risk removing anything without one. We don’t know if we can even keep it! It would be a shame to remove a ‘keepable’ tooth. Go to the emergency ward and check with them. If we can’t keep it, then you just come back up and I’ll remove it personally. You’ve got just enough time to squeeze in. They’re gonna close the admissions in, like, ten minutes, but if you get there before, they’ll see you. I’ll even make sure we keep the surgery ward open in case you come back up to us.”

Patient: “But it hurts! I want you to remove it now! I can’t wait at the emergency ward!”

(It should be noted that non-traumatic dental emergencies take weeks, if not months to develop. I have very little patience for people who come in after years of neglecting their dental hygiene and command me to do anything right this instant.)

Me: “I just told you, you have to go down to the emergency ward. They’ll X-ray it and if we have to remove it, I’ll do it. It won’t take more than thirty minutes, wait time included. They’re not especially busy at the moment, and neither are we.”

Patient: “Look into my mouth! If you’re really studying dentistry, you’ll know it can’t be kept!”

Me: “Oh, actually, I’m a liberal arts major doing an unpaid internship. I’m not studying dentistry or anything. I can’t help you. Either you get it X-rayed and you come back, or you can go home, take a big pair of pliers, and remove it yourself, for all I care.”

(He did go and get it X-rayed and it indeed had to be removed, which I obviously could tell before, but I wasn’t able to bend the rules. And even if I were, I wouldn’t have done it for an impolite bastard like him. Of course, if it had been a life or death situation that couldn’t have waited fifteen minutes, I would have done something for him. It wasn’t one of those.)

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