Years and years ago, we had a doctor in town who was arrogant with a capital “A.” Although he was a pretty good doctor, he wasn’t all that he thought he was. He calmed down a bit after marrying a local nurse. Those who thought he was unbearable after matrimony, hadn’t got a taste of his attitude before his marriage.
Mrs. Gibson was a patient in the nursing home who was in a semi-comatose state. Her condition had not changed much so I was a little surprised when I came in on the graveyard shift to find a note in her chart from Dr. Gamble, her attending physician.
In red ink he had written and underlined three times, “If there are any changes in this patient’s condition, I am to be notified immediately or HEADS WILL ROLL!”
I asked the nurse I was relieving what had happened to which she replied, “I have no idea. All I know is Dr. Gamble was adamant that we better notify him STAT if something happens. Nothing has happened so far, though.”
Right after 3-11 shift clocked out, I was called to Mrs. Gibson’s room. For the first time ever, she was having a seizure. As I went to the phone, I thought to myself how odd this was as she is not on any seizure medication and has no history of having them.
Dr. Gamble answered the phone and I began telling him about Mrs. Gibson’s seizure. He quickly interrupted and said, “Why are you calling me?”
I pulled the phone from my ear and looked at it like, really? and then began again with the change in the patient’s condition.
Dr. Gamble interrupted me again, “It’s after 11:00 at night. I don’t understand why you woke me up to tell me about a seizure, Michelle.”
“Because you wrote in the chart to notify you immediately if there was a change,” I answered. “I’d say a seizure is a pretty significant change in a patient who does not have a history of them.”
“Oh, I understand now,” he said quite condescendingly, “You don’t know what to do with a patient who has had a seizure. Right?”
“No, I do know what to do,” I replied. I was holding back, but not for much longer.
With more attitude than I liked, he demanded, “Then what is so urgent that you had to wake me up in the middle of the night?”
“I woke you because YOU said to let you know immediately if something changed. Well, something changed,” I insisted and then yelled before hanging up on him, “I DIDN’T WANT MY HEAD TO ROLL!”
The next morning my boss called me and said, “Did you and Dr. Gamble have words last night?”
“You could say that,” I answered.
With a laugh she asked, “Were they nice words or were you being charming and diplomatic ‘cough-cough’?”
“I was charming and diplomatic,” I answered honestly.
“The family was here visiting yesterday when he was making rounds so he wrote that in Mrs. Gibson’s chart to impress the family,” she explained. “I meant to have Lee take the note out of the chart before you got here. Sorry about that. Don’t worry about him, though, he’s an ass.”