Friday, October 24, 2014

"I Need Oxygen!!"

Hearing this, I he know that (a) the guest is short of breath and (b) the guest doesn’t need oxygen – unless everyone in the room is having trouble breathing in which case this is not a medical problem.

If you suffer an illness that produces shortness of breath (asthma, heart failure, obstructive lung disease) breathing oxygen will not help much. Other treatments work better. These problems often require immediate attention and lengthy observation, so making a housecall is a bad idea.

It turns out that anxiety is the leading cause of shortness of breath in a hotel guest. This is never fatal, and I have good success treating it, but making a housecall is risky. Between the time I hang up and arrive at the room, some guests recover and either cancel or leave the room and hide out in the hotel until certain that I have come and gone.

My malpractice lawyer is whispering that I mustn’t suggest that no one needs oxygen. For example, victims of end-stage lung disease (mostly emphysema) often breathe from a bottle which they carry around. If the oxygen runs short, they need more. I tell them so if they phone. Any guest short of breath can phone me.    

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