Here’s a short list on how to get yourself on the short list of patients that get denied pain meds, a larger needle than necessary, or a “come to Jesus” meeting during their stay in the ER.
#1) When asked “What brings you to the ER?” Begin your response with, “WebMD said…”
If I had a dollar for every time people incorrectly diagnosed themselves on WebMD, I’d be able to pay off my staggering student loan debt. A headache does not mean you have a Brain Tumor. It’s far more likely your headache is caused by your last remaining brain cell getting tired of trying to make you function like a normal member of society. WebMD was invented to help people make a more educated decision about seeking medical attention. WebMD was not invented to override the years of medical training that your ER nurse or doctor has received. Every time a patient begins his/her response with, “WebMD said,” the triage nurse will immediately think, “Oh fuck me. It’s another one of these douchebags.”
#2) Lie to them
No healthcare worker is going to believe that your blood alcohol level of .48 was the result of “2 beers” or that the track marks on your arms are “mosquito bites” or that the Barbie doll head stuck up your ass is because you were “walking naked in your daughters room when you tripped and fell into her toy box.” The term “Full of Shit” applies to more than just constipation. We’ve seen it all, and we don’t judge. However, when you lie to us, it does not help your case. I once had a patient tell me all of the track marks on her arm were from all the hospital IV sticks because she’s been so sick over the last few years. She was there for a fever related to her Endocarditis. The Endocarditis she got from shooting up with dirty needles. The sooner we can cut out all the bullshit, the quicker you will be cured. What’s that famous movie quote? “The truth shall get you discharged!” Something like that.
#3) Treat the ER like a hotel
I didn’t spend all that time in school racking up the aforementioned debt to become a waiter or a maid. Ain’t nobody got time to bring you juice, then a turkey sandwich, then a blanket, then a pillow, then a Popsicle, then some morphine, then turn the lights out because fluorescent bulbs hurt your eyes. Someone is in the next room with an actual emergency while you’re sitting here because “someone stole all my Percocet.” I once had someone with Incarceritis (Someone under arrest complaining of chest pain because they don’t want to go to jail) demand I stop treating someone who was actively having a stroke, just so I could bring them a turkey sandwich. You’re a grown ass man; start acting like a grown ass man. Oh and by the way, I know damn well your mom taught you how to say “please” and “thank you” so don’t pretend like she didn’t.
#4) Come to the ER for dumb reasons
As much as I love job security, if you’re 25 years old and come to me at 3am because you woke up with a fever, your parents failed you. Go home, and take some Tylenol. Here’s a short list of reasons NOT to come to the ER:
You ran out of pain meds
Someone stole your pain meds
You dropped your pain meds down the drain
You’re drunk and now you’re vomiting
You need a school/work note
You think you might be pregnant
You missed your vein when you were shooting up and now you’ve got an abscess
Truthfully, that last one probably needs medical attention but it’s your own fault so I’ll help you but no fucks will be given to you
#5) Use an ambulance as a taxi
Ambulances are for emergencies. I’ll repeat that. Ambulances are for emergencies. Ambulances are NOT for people who can’t find a ride, for people who stubbed their toe, for people who don’t want to wake their friends at 2 am, or for people who don’t have Uber money. If you literally will not make the trip to the hospital without dying on the way, by all means, call an ambulance. I once had an Urban Outdoorsman (homeless guy) arrive by ambulance with the chief complaint, and I quote, “Its cold and wet outside”. I’m sorry, did you suddenly regret your decision to fold up your box and move out from under your bridge? Another patient told me “I been pukin’ for months now. Den I think to myself ‘Well…better call 911.'” For fucks sake lady, you’re 500 pounds. You could probably afford to puke a little. I once even had a concerned mother bring her child in by ambulance, and after being asked “What brings you to the ER?” she responds, “I didn’t have a thermometer”. I shit you not. This fucking lady didn’t have a thermometer so she called an ambulance. How about the 25 year old girl who came in by ambulance because she broke a nail? The list goes on people.
In conclusion, nurses and doctors have a lot of patience. However, I’ve provided you with a list of ways to piss them off, and ensure your visit to the ER is less than pleasant to say the least. Do with it what you will.