Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Hotel Doctor's Database: Part 2

Now and then I consult my database for business purposes: for example, to check on a guest who claims to have seen me before. Mostly, I use it satisfy my curiosity.

Men travel more than women but are less likely to ask for a doctor so women outnumber them 8834 to 7800. I’ve cared for 110 patients under age one and thirteen over 90, the oldest 97. The smallest of the small hours are not silent. I’ve made 634 housecalls between midnight and 5 a.m.

My leading diagnosis is the same as that of any family doctor: respiratory infections, 4219 visits. In second place are upset stomachs with vomiting and diarrhea: 2346.

I’ve been around long enough to see 76 patients with chicken pox, another 76 with gout, 12 with mumps, 53 with herpes, 29 with poison ivy, and 149 suffering a kidney stone. Victims of kidney stones rarely delay calling a doctor, and since they are rarely emergencies I visit a fair number.  I’ve seen 79 guests with chest pain and sent ten to the hospital. Far more of my 30,000 callers complained of chest pain, but I work hard weed out emergencies over the phone. Those ten were mistakes.

My most numerous foreign patients are, as you’d expect, the British:  1,711. You won’t guess number two: Argentineans with 1,686. That’s the home base of Latin American travel insurers, but they have prospered and spread; since 2000 I receive more calls from the largest country in the hemisphere, Brazil which will eventually overtake Argentina. 

I’ve cared for guests from Tonga, Malta, New Caledonia, and Curacao but not from Latvia, Estonia, Yemen, and half a dozen African nations. Russians didn’t travel until the fall of the Soviet Union. I saw my first in 1991. The Chinese don’t appear until 1998. So far Cuba has sent one.

Six guests died – fortunately none in the room after my visit. One was dead when I arrived. Four died soon after I sent them to the hospital, and another died after the ER doctor (mistakenly) sent her back. I called the paramedics after examining sixteen guests. Many more needed attention but weren’t urgent. To leave after accepting their promise to go to an emergency room guarantees intense worry on my part. If the guest decides to wait, and something dreadful happens, I’m the last doctor he or she saw, a situation that brings joy to the heart of malpractice lawyers. When a guest needs an emergency room, I stay until they head off. I’ve done this 51 times.

37 guests asked for a visit but weren’t in the room when I arrived. 58 refused to pay. 18 paid with a bad check. I don’t record guests who get a discount but 1331 paid between $5 and $50. 102 guests paid nothing. I will not deny that I have a category for “celebrity.” It has 90 entries although that includes their wives and children. I try to head off drug abusers over the phone but 77 slipped through. The diagnosis on four was “drunk,” but that’s certainly too few.

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