The Tired Doctor and Frivolous Phone Calls
An old joke:
The tired doctor was awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night.
"Please, you have to come right over," pleaded the distraught young mother. "My child has swallowed a contraceptive."
The physician dressed quickly; but before he could get out the door, the phone rang again.
"You don't have to come over after all," the woman said with a sigh of relief. "My husband just found another one."
Though this is just a joke, it does provide the lead-in for the discussion of frivolous calls to doctors and most disturbingly when the calls are at night. There is no doubt that often those calls which contribute to the establishment of a tired doctor are calls particularly at night that disturb the doctor’s sleep. The question is when is a phone call from a patient frivolous and when is it not? Are any phone calls to a physician “unworthy of serious attention”? If the answer is “yes” then one may ask: how can a physician evaluate a patient’s call? And finally, should patients themselves be responsible to screen their own call before placing it? Or if the patient makes the call, one should assume the call was already screened for importance. On the other hand, should every call received by the physician be taken seriously and some definitive action should be taken by the physician. I am not going to try to respond to these questions for you now but instead I would like to read the experience and views of physician and patient visitors to my blog. ..Maurice.