ED in the limelight

It was a piece of news which rocked our department. The false accusations hurled at our faces angered us… though it wasn’t quite made to us at that time, we all felt insulted.

Had I not been assigned to the medical standby team to oversee an event graced by the First Lady, I would have been seated in the next room. So I wasn’t there when it happened, in fact, I first found out about it through the radio on Monday morning, and only learning later at work that it happened in my very own ED. My dear colleagues were the poor victims of the vicious verbal assault.

The first newspaper report: April 27, 2009

Here: Our Minister defending us

Mind you, he did not knock the door. He barged in and practically created a scene out of the prescription given to the university student (which naturally means that his ‘victim’ was already seen by the doctor).

Why were the patients at the waiting area not seen?

First, one must understand the principle of triaging patients. Critical patients who desperately need emergency medical care will be sent to the resuscitation zone immediately by our triager in the front of our department. Likewise for the semi-critical cases – to the yellow zone. Almost cold cases or stable ones, where patients come in for bruises, small cuts and bumps and all those very minor problems (which make up a whole lot of our patients everyday) will be sent to the green zone as they are healthy enough to wait and healthy enough to walk in through the doors to see the doctor for treatment.

There were only three patients waiting. If you’ve worked in our ED, you would easily noticed that a patient often comes with a huge entourage of concerned family members. Sometimes it gets irritating when the entire family wants to squeeze in the tiny room with the patient already on a wheelchair to give their input on the situation. Back to my point, patients come with family… which made up even more of the numbers sitting at the waiting area.

Now if you were also a doctor working at the ED, the last thing you want is having 20 patients waiting outside to see you and the last thing you want to do is to do your own ‘personal stuff’ and have those patients wait outside.
Delaying our time to see them would:
1. mean not being able to see all the cases coming in during our shift time… and that means going home late. Who would want that?
2. make our patients impatient and they come in with a grump and humph about waiting outside for so long. Of course, they’re always blind to the other hundreds of patients waiting outside and that we work on first come first serve basis (but there are exceptions). More often than not, we’re made to skip lunch (if working morning shift) until three or skip dinner (if working the afternoon). Of course nobody would know how hard the doctors are working behind the closed doors.. sometimes not even having the time to go to the loo. Of course nobody sees the complicated cases that come through our door, needing Xrays and blood tests and ECGs done because they have multiple diseases or very deep laceration wounds.

Of course nobody sees, but one fine day, some deputy guy barges in the door on a relatively free Sunday morning (most early Sundays people sleep in and don’t come as early as they would on Mondays as those are the days they want to run away from working and they want their MCs) and happens to find one doctor glancing at the newspaper left behind by the patient. Why weren’t they seeing cases when there are three outside, you ask? Because their cards were still at the registration counter. There were no patient cards in the box of the consultation rooms.. how were the doctors expected to see them then?

He made very awful and extremely false statements about the people who work hardest to keep our society healthy. Many of us forgo sleep at least twice a week, work very odd hours and receive lower salaries than our counterparts in other career fields because this is our passion. But if we were to be accused falsely for being lazy, then the accuser has horridly breached the line.

Try working in our ED for a day… then you’d know how it really is like. Don’t dishonour the group of people who have served the people most.

PS: Try looking up his blog. I didn’t want to link it here. No sign of apologies at all. Sad.

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