It’s 8:15 p.m. I am at home. My beeper goes off, and I check it instantly. It reads, “555-1212” [Number changed to comply with HIPAA regulations]. It’s the inpatient surgical floor. Within 10 seconds, I have dialed the number.
The unit secretary answers with the scripted and time-wasting response: “Hello, this is Blockley East, Jennifer, Unit Secretary speaking. How may I help you?”
“Skeptical Scalpel, returning a page.”
“Oh, yes. Hold on, I’ll get the nurse.”
Cue the recorded announcements extolling the virtues of the hospital’s world-class robotic surgery program, the revolutionary Cyberknife®, the wound care center, the award-winning maternity suite and blah, blah, blah. I have the spiel memorized. Give me elevator music any time over this.
I’m thinking about the patients I have on that floor. Is it about Mrs. Schweinsteiger’s urine output? Is Mr. Robben’s NG tube not working again? Has the lab work come back on Miss Ribery?
I look at my cell phone. It’s been 2 minutes and 37 seconds since I answered the page. I’m hearing the recording for the third time.
Hmmm. At 4½ minutes, I hang up.
The punch line? I was never paged again.
So, what happened here?
My theory is that immediately after a nurse pages you, she runs as fast as she can to get as far away from the nurses’ station as possible. Maybe she went off duty. Maybe she took a break. Or something. And it apparently wasn’t that important or she would have paged me again.
This kind of thing happens just about every day and drives me crazy.
Note: Yesterday, this blog was posted on Sermo, an on line physician community and 52/56 (93%) MDs who responded said they had experienced pages like the one I described.