The Power Of A Name

, , , , , | Right | October 20, 2018

(I answer the switchboard for a large hospital. This caller is an older man with a thick southern drawl.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Hospital]. This is [My Name]. How may I help you?”

Caller: “A man my wife knows left his work today with chest pains and we want to know if he is there. His name is [Common First Name].”

Me: “What is the patient’s last name?”

Caller: “Uh… we don’t know that. But… he is a big man. Big man. Tall and heavy.”

Me: “Unfortunately, I have to have a last name to look a patient up—”

Caller: *cuts me off* “Well, he is a large man. He would have come into the hospital with chest pains and… Oh, yeah… He is a security guard at a KOH-rean… a KOH-rean… uh, a KOH-rean, uh… beauty place. So, his boss is probably there with him. You got any big, white men having a heart attack with a KOH-rean man standing next to them?”

Me: “Well, that might be a fairly unique situation. However, I cannot put any of that information into my computer to find out if that patient is here. Can you call someone to get his last name?”

Caller: “No, there is no one we can call. Just put me through to your Coronary Department… That is where I go when I have all my heart attacks. They all know me and can help me with this.”

(I ring the Coronary Care unit, and explain what the caller needs before I connect him. Five minutes later, the phone rings.)

Me: “Thank you for calling—”

Caller: *interrupts me* “Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. That Coronary lady said I need a full name to see if a patient is there. I am just going to come up there and walk around and until can find him. So, I will need a security guard to escort me. Can you arrange for that?”

Me: “Yes, sir. I will be glad to have a security officer meet you at the door when you get here.”

(People, believe it or not, we cannot access a our patients by their size, their skin color, their job title, their employer’s nationality, or even by their ailment! We have to have a name — a full name. That’s all. Just the name.)

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