Death Is A Pre-Existing Condition

, , , , , , | Healthy | March 13, 2019

(I work for an insurance company. When people forget or lose their insurance cards, the doctor’s office often calls us to confirm if the insurance is up and running. I get one of these calls.)

Receptionist: “I am calling to confirm the insurance of a patient. It’s [Patient], born [date], living at [address].”

(I look up the data, double checking that I am really talking to a doctor’s office.)

Me: “Yeah, he was insured with us up to [date a few months in the past].”

Receptionist: “Well, do you know where he is insured now? He is sitting here, waiting for treatment.”

Me: “What do you mean, he is sitting there? According to my information, he died a few months ago.”

(Turns out, the doctor had two patients with the same name and birthday, and both were insured with us. And the receptionist called up the file just using that information. Only after we asked the patient for his address did we confirm that he was the other patient. I still wonder what went through his mind when the receptionist told him, “I have your insurance on the line; they say you’re dead.”)

Time To Take A Breather

, , , , | Healthy | March 13, 2019

(I am a medical assistant in a community health clinic, with a fully-stocked retail pharmacy on the premises. This patient uses our pharmacy and has been put on a strict refill schedule for his emergency inhalers due to extreme overuse. Normal use is a maximum of two of each per month. He had gone through nine of [Inhaler #1] in two months before the pharmacist contacted the doctor. The pharmacists have counseled him multiple times on proper use, and I’ve reached out multiple times to offer an appointment to address the root cause of his trouble breathing. He declines every time, claiming he needs his inhalers to breathe, that he’s going to have a coronary without them, and that we just want him to not be able to get enough oxygen. Every time I hear this rant, I note that it is extremely long-winded and that he can get through multiple run-on sentences without having to take a breath. His doctor has even called him personally to lay down the refill schedule and explain the cardiac-related consequences of continued overuse. I receive a voicemail from this patient, in which he goes on with another long-winded rant about how the doctor NEEDS to refill his medication. Because of a very well-documented refill schedule and the doctor’s notes that he will NOT refill early under any circumstance, as well as previous in-person discussions with this doctor about this patient, I don’t even need to ask the doctor to advise on the situation. I see that one [Inhaler #2] should be available for a refill, but [Inhaler #1] won’t be available for another week and a half; he’s literally filled it just a few days ago! I call the patient. This is part of the way into the call, and yes, he is yelling the entire time.)

Me: “With all due respect, the inhalers are only treating your symptoms. Continuing to use them at the rate you were doing so puts you at serious risk for a cardiac event, including a heart attack—“

Patient: “NOT GIVING ME MY INHALERS PUTS ME AT A RISK FOR A CORONARY BECAUSE I’M NOT GETTING ENOUGH OXYGEN. YOU PEOPLE JUST DON’T WANT ME TO BREATHE!”

Me: “Sir, we don’t want you to have a coronary, either, which is why we want to address the root cause of your condition.”

Patient: “NO. YOU STOP THERE. JUST TELL THE DOCTOR THAT HE NEEDS TO MAKE THE PHARMACIST FILL MY PRESCRIPTION! THEN THE PHARMACIST FILL BE REQUIRED TO FILL IT!”

Me: “[Doctor] can’t make the pharmacist do anything.”

Patient: “YES, HE CAN! ONCE HE WRITES THE PRESCRIPTION THE PHARMACIST IS REQUIRED BY LAW TO FILL IT!”

Me: “Sir, [Doctor] is a doctor; he is not a supervising pharmacist. He can only write the prescription. Pharmacies are allowed, by law, to question and even deny prescriptions at their own discretion for patient safety.”

Patient: “DON’T YOU INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE!”

(He didn’t get his inhaler refilled early. I later went down to the pharmacy and told the supervising pharmacist. He found it even funnier than I did!)

An Urgent Need For Details

, , , | Healthy | March 12, 2019

(In the UK, doctor appointments are generally booked in advance, although there are a few reserved for people who phone on the day for emergencies. The phone rings.)

Me: “Good morning, medical centre.”

Patient: “I’d like to make an appointment with a doctor, please.”

Me: “Okay, if it’s urgent, I can fit you in today, or if it’s not urgent I have an appointment in two days.”

Patient: “I don’t know if it’s urgent or not.”

Me: “Okay, well, if you give me a brief idea of what it’s concerning, I can help you decide.”

Patient: “It’s private. I’ll only discuss it with a doctor.”

Me: “Okay, fair enough. So, did you need an urgent appointment or can it wait a few days?”

Patient: “I’ve told you I don’t know if it’s urgent or not!”

Me: “As I’ve said, if you give me some idea of what it’s concerning—“

Patient: *interrupting* “It’s private! I’m not telling the receptionist!”

Me: “That’s fair enough but then I need you to tell me whether or not it’s urgent.”

Patient: “How many times?! I don’t know!”

Me: “Okay, I’ll give an example. If it’s just something like a sick note–”

Patient: *interrupting again getting increasingly angry* “I don’t need a sick note!”

Me: “It was just an example to help explain the difference between urgent and non-urgent appointments. If you don’t tell me which you need, I can’t book you in.”

Patient: “Well, how am I supposed to know if it’s urgent or not if you won’t tell me?!”

(They then hung up without ever having booked an appointment, or even given their name. I guess it wasn’t that urgent after all.)

Take A Breath And Think About It

, , , | Healthy | March 9, 2019

(I work at a sleep clinic work with people who have sleep disorders such as apnea and Hypopnea. These disorders, in a nutshell, make a person stop breathing or breathe so shallowly the oxygen in their blood is affected like with apnea. And I get this almost every time I’m working when I put CPAP on a patient!)

Patient: “Excuse me, miss? I can’t breathe with this thing on!”

Me: *after seeing them stop breathing for almost a minute* “Well, you aren’t breathing with it off, either.”

Can’t Finnish What She Started

, , , , , | Right Romantic | March 7, 2019

(I work with an EMS group and we are taking people’s blood pressure for free. I am taking an older woman’s blood pressure. I am a young, white, blonde, blue-eyed guy.)

Woman: “Are you finished?”

Me: “No, I just started.”

Woman: “No, no. Are you Finnish? My granddaughter is Finnish—“ *points to her beautiful, blonde granddaughter* “—and she is single.”

Me: “Oh, no, sorry. I’m married.”

Customer Next To Me: “I’m Finnish!”

(I bet you $5 he wasn’t.)

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