Over my past few shifts in Mid-Size Non-Trauma Center, I have noticed a few common questions and requests from patients that I would like to address:
1. "Can I have something to eat/drink?" - This is a perfectly reasonable question if you've been in the ED for a few hours, and haven't been allowed anything pending test results or some such. It's going to SERIOUSLY PISS ME OFF if it's the first thing out of your mouth when you walk into the ED. Here's why: if you've WALKED into the ED, you got yourself to the hospital. On your way, you passed LOTS of places to get a drink of water/juice, or a snack. If you're sick enough to be here, your snack should really NOT be your primary concern.
On the other hand, i make plenty of exceptions for: people brought in by ambulance, especially for fainting- maybe hunger or dehydration MADE them faint, so I'll do my best; Pregnant women- snacking helps with morning sickness, i get it; The Elderly- sometimes they have been brought in without much input on their part, and havent eaten in AGES.
2. "When will the doctor be here?"- Another question that sounds perfectly reasonable, except when whined repeatedly by someone who came in for narcotics over FOUR HOURS. The doctor (nominated for sainthood) had checked on him EVERY TWENTY MINUTES, but he still felt it was unreasonable that the doctor "wouldn't really help"- the doc exhausted like, 7 DIFFERENT pain management techniques INCLUDING a lidocaine patch, toradol (allergic, but not to codeine with tylenol, or to vicodin), pain management referral, etc. I was sorry that he was in pain, but...we cannot just keep giving him narcotics for his complaint of "the last doctor pushed REALLY HARD on my abdomen and it hurts". Seriously, try a heat pack. The doctor even went in and explained "i think you have a problem with narcotic addiction, and I would like to refer you to somewhere for help". The patient spat at him and left.
3."Can't you just look it up?"- with regard to medications the patient is taking. The emergency departments of the world do not, as a rule, have access to magic 8 balls, or necromancy to divine patient records from world war 2, other states, other hospital systems, or other planets. While this DOES put the burden on patients to know what they've taken, what they're allergic to, and if they still have an appendix, until we get a centralized national system patients are just going to have to try to help us out. Again, free passes are given for people too sick to remember anything, 90 year olds taking 40 meds with memory problems, or anyone unconscious.