As I was preparing for bed, a call arrived from one of my favorite hotels, the Palomar. It’s large and upscale but mostly I like it because it’s only a short drive. The caller explained that his nine year-old son had been coughing for three days.
“I started him on phenoxymethy penicillin,” he added.
“Does he have a bad sore throat?” I asked. Penicillin treats strep throat and no other common childhood illness, but the presence of coughing makes strep unlikely.
“No. I thought it might help… My brother is a pediatric consultant in London. He gave me a Ventolin inhaler.”
“Did that help?”
“A little.” That means 'no,' but it was a good idea. Asthma inhalers often relieve a cough even in patients without asthma.
“I’m a doctor who comes to hotels. Would you like me to see him?” I asked.
“My wife wonders if I should take him to a clinic for a chest x-ray and blood tests.”
“Unless he’s very sick, that’s not necessary.”
“Maybe you should come. Can you give him cortisone?”
“I carry cortisone….”
“So you could give him an injection?”
“I’d have to examine him first.”
After consulting with his wife, he said “We will wait for you.”
I exchanged my pajamas for a suit, filled out my encounter form, and was about to leave when the phone rang. It was the Palomar, and I knew what that meant. Guests don’t like to cancel in person, so a hotel employee delivered the message.
“The gentleman says he’s decided to take the child to an urgent care clinic.”
“There’s none in this area open so late. He’ll have to go to the UCLA emergency room.”
“Thanks for the information. I’ll tell him.”
I reverted to my pajamas and went to bed where I passed an uneventful night. The Palomar guest probably passed it in the emergency room.