An older lady in her 60s came in via ambulance complaining of back pain. Now lets be honest, we all have pain. I have butt pain all the time from seeing patients. If I eat and over stuff myself like a fat pig with greasy food, I have abdominal pain. I even have chest pain when I run fast for too long-playing basketball. I know pain sucks but to come on calling the ambulance for back pain it better be for fracturing your back.
I place her in a room on the end of the hallway and get her history. There was nothing significant, no trauma (falls or blunt force), no strenuous activity nor any past surgeries to her back. Well not too interesting but I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and medicate her and send her for CT scan of her back.
She calls me about 20 minutes after getting back from her CT scan and states she has to go to the bathroom. I walk down and unhook her from the blood pressure and heart rate monitor so she can walk to the bathroom. “Oh no I cannot walk to the bathroom that’s too far,” she states. I think to myself well your back is not broken so why can you not walk there. “Well do you want a bed pan instead,” I offer. “No just get me a bedside commode, I hate bedpans,” she states.
I go and get a bedside commode clean it and tell her I will be right back with some tissue to wipe with. I go and come back and guess what, she already got up to the bedside commode. Now it’s not like it was right beside the bed, I left it on the other side of the room. Just imagine that, she is able to walk, it’s a miracle. I let her be and tell her to press the call button when she is done so I can get her back to the bed.
I got busy but about 25 minutes later I remember she never called me so I walk back down there to check on her. I walk in and behold her already back in bed. I ask her how she got there and she tells me she got herself back in bed. Well that’s 2 episodes of walking, apparently this back pain is not as debilitating as she made it seem. Now its just a simple matter of waiting on CT report and discharge.
Everything gets back and doctor comes in and tells her she is free to go. A few minutes later I go in and take out her IV and disconnect her from everything and she starts belly aching away, “You cannot send me home like this, I cannot take care of myself.” Why can you not take care of you self madam? “I cannot get up and walk around and you need to admit me.” Now I know she can walk, she has done so more than once today so that’s a lie, time for some tough love.
“Sorry madam you can walk. You have no medical reasons that keep you from walking. Also, we did the CT of your back and nothing is broken,” I tell her. “That doesn’t matter, I want to be admitted I cannot take care of myself,” she states. Well I ask, “You are married. Im I not correct? Your husband can help you when you get home.” Well that really set her off and she starts yelling, “He cannot help me. He is disabled. You just need to do your job and get me admitted.”
We continue to discuss it and eventually she get the point that she is not getting admitted. Then I hit her with the mother of all inconveniences, I tell her she has to get her own ride home. She reacted like I spit in her face. “I cannot get a ride home, don’t you know what time it is? If you want me to go home you need to find me a way there.” she yells. Well yes in fact I definitely knew the time. I was scheduled to get off work at 3am and I did not want to spend my last hour smelling her funky breath. I needed a gas mask just to be in the room with her. Last time I checked we all are adults, why should I be responsible for paying for you a ride home.
I suggested she take a cab since no one would come for her. Of course she swore up and down she didn’t have the money for a taxi. So I went to the doctor, who just so happened to be the Medical Director for the ER physician group that we use and he signed off on the hospital paying for the medical transport to come pick her up and take her home. Another problem solved and I skipped my happy butt down to the room to tell her the good news that we where going to pay for her a ride home.
Well no good deed goes unpunished, she is on the phone when I get in the room with her husband and their both pissed off at me. “Its 2am, its ridiculous that you are sending me home at this time. It is not safe,” she states and then proceeds to hand me the phone to “explain” all this to her husband. I tell him that we are paying for her ride home but they both keep yelling at me insisting I get her admitted. They are yelling so loud the charge nurse come down to investigate.
She tries to intervene and talk to the husband but to no avail. The husband takes down my name, the charges nurse’s, doctor’s name and makes the usual empty threats: Oh I’m going to sue you, I am going to file a complaint with the hospital administrator and etc. Then he has the nerve to tell us we are just discriminating against them and something needs to be done about it. There is no law that tells me I have to discharge you when its “convenient” for you. You go home when everything is back no matter what time it is. Well arguing does no good so I walked away and left it for the charge nurse to handle.
The transport service arrive and on her way out she threatened all the usual complaints to file. Amazingly she was back 3x that same week for her back pain, guess all our “discrimination” didn’t deter her from wanting more pain medicine from us. No matter what you do people will complain. Whats the most frequent “inconvenience” people complaint to you about? Leave a comment below.