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I had the equivalent of one of those drone near-misses when doing my day duty triage stint the other day.
The drone, in this case, being the sound of a woman’s voice on the other end of the phone going on lengthily and floridly about how ill she is.
I’m unimpressed even before I call her. She was seen only yesterday by a colleague: ‘Fever, sore throat, malaise O/E Well, all obs NAD, Dx viral’. Now, according to the message, she is ‘No better’. Really? An URTI lasting a whole 24 hours?
The context has timewaster written all over it, too. Multiple attendances, numerous DNAs and a summary peppered with soft psychiatry. You know the sort.
So here she is on the phone not only no better but, apparently, ‘One hundred times worse’. And using that annoying breathy/whispery voice that some patients think a) approximates to laryngitis and b) prompts action.
I only agree to see her because I think the rollicking she needs about minor illness will be more effective face-to-face
I only agree to see her in my afternoon emergency clinic because I think the rollicking she needs about coping with minor, self-limiting illness will be more effective face-to-face.
So I do. And I think, this will be fun. Until I see her, that is. She actually looks a bit pale and wobbly. With a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. And a pulse of, blimey, 132. And a systolic of….er…My diagnosis is rapidly shifting from ‘pathetic’ to ‘septic’.
One ambulance and a mopped brow later I’m thankful that we didn’t both end up in a mangled metallic mess on the drone-buzzed runway.
I’m still wondering what the moral of the story is, and I’m still not sure. Probably something about don’t make assumptions, play safe, listen first and judge later, etc etc. In other words, don’t be me. But that’s easy for you to say.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex