Tuesday, April 29, 2014

No Housecalls Today

A guest dropped an ice bucket on her toe. Pain was excruciating, and blood poured out. Holding the toe under the tap didn’t help.

Over the phone, I explained that running water won’t stop bleeding. She should apply pressure over the wound and add ice to dull the pain. When I called an hour later, she was having dinner in the hotel restaurant.

A man had developed a slight cough, in his opinion a prelude to full-blown bronchitis. He wanted something to knock it out. I explained that, in a healthy person, viruses cause almost all coughs. I could come, but I couldn’t promise an antibiotic. The man said he would get a second opinion.

A teenager bumped his head on a bedpost and developed a lump the size of an egg. The parents asked that I check him for brain injury. That requires a CT scan, I explained. He would certainly get one if he went to an emergency room, but the injury didn’t seem serious enough for that. It was OK to wait. He did fine.

A guest had missed his flight because of an upset stomach. He was well now but needed a doctor’s note to avoid an expensive ticket-exchange fee. These requests arrive now and then, and they put me in a difficult position. I can’t write “The guest was unable to travel because of an upset stomach” because I don’t know if that’s true (sometimes the patient admits that it isn’t). So I offer to write the truth: “The guest states that he suffered an upset stomach and could not travel.” I sweeten the pot by offering to fax it to the hotel at no charge.

Guests usually accept. To date, no one has complained, so the note may work.

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