Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Stupid People and the Pain They Cause

(Thanks to all the encouraging commenters on my previous post. Yes, I was having a bad day, and, as always, things were much better in the morning. Because of that last post, though, I feel compelled to point out that this one is intended as humor and not pathos.)

There are times when I finish seeing someone, watch as the patient leaves, gets in their car and drives away, then go up to my two front office staffers (I don't have a nurse) and shake my head.

"There are times," I hear myself saying to them, "when I cannot imagine," (I speak slowly, for emphasis) "that being *that* stupid," (another dramatic pause; they've heard me say this before and are getting ready to laugh) "wouldn't hurt."

What now?

Oh, let's see:
  • "I had a rash a few months ago. It was right there...or maybe it was on this side; anyway, what was it?
  • [Pointing to spot on abdomen]
    • "Is that skin cancer?"
    • "No, it's a stretch mark."
    • "Can I get rid of it?"
    • (No.)
  • [Holding out hand with perfectly normal fingernails]
    • "My manicurist says there's something wrong with this nail."
    • "What did she think was wrong with it?"
    • "She didn't say."
  • "My son had a cold last week. He's fine now, but I just want you to check him out."
When I'm in a room with one of these people, I feel pressure building in my head. It builds slowly, pounding, and I feel it moving to my ears. It's my brain struggling to force its way out of my skull, trying to fill the intelligence vacuum created by the person sitting in front of me.

It hurts.

There are some people you want to smack over the head with a 2 x 4, trying to beat some sense into them. And then there are these; the ones that make you think, "Why ruin a perfectly good 2 x 4?"

It is for these patients I have coined the term "pneumocephalic." (Yes, I know such a thing actually exists, seen rarely on head CTs and the like; but I really did make it up without realizing that.) It's doctor-type jargon for "AIRHEAD". One day, I even realized there's a code for it.

[Digression for explanation: There is a document known as the International Classification of Diseases (we're on version 9; ie: ICD-9) which contains codes for every conceivable diagnosis, symptom and/or ailment known to humankind. In fact there is a code for every conceivable reason for walking into a doctor's office. The "administrative" codes -- checkups, driver's physicals, routine gyn exams -- are preceded by the letter V, and so are known (of all things) as "V-codes."]

Here's the code for pneumocephaly: V02.
(Oxygen; get it?)

The moment I came up with that, I realized that there's even a code for a bad hair day: V05.


At Sun Oct 29, 06:26:00 AM, Blogger Big Lebowski Store said...

Dino, please do yourself and your staff a favor and talk to these people before you agree to see them in the office. Exchange emails, whatever, but for God's sake, don't see them in the office!

The kid, I can be certain, didn't need to be seen.

You'll be much happier at work. I am.



At Sun Oct 29, 11:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah - apparently you have seen some of my clients. I am a veterinarian, practicing similar medicine as you do, only on patients with no verbal skills and sometimes even less social ones. Unfortunately, their owners often compel me to pick up said animal, state "Let me examine Fluffy in the back", and run out of the room for fear that their idiocy is contagious.

Several of us have coined a term that you may find useful - whackitrons. These are the subatomic particles given off by these VO2 afflicted, that permeate the surrounding atmosphere and make our lives so...interesting.

Current treatment of choice - tin foil hats. Get them for your staff, quickly.

At Sun Oct 29, 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

There must be a way of working
into this coding.

I can't tell you the number of parents who tell me that they wake up their children to check if they are OK because they can't see them moving or hear them snoring, "like they usually do". Pretty much, for these workshops, children don't come to me unless they have sleep-disordered breathing or some problem that interferes with their quality of sleep, such as restlessness. But, hey, go ahead, wake them up and ask them if something's wrong.

Regards - Shinga

At Sun Oct 29, 01:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't feel bad, doc. Every profession comes into contact with people who are so dumb you wonder how they survive.

I'm a land surveyor. I get a firm letter telling me I must include the zoning information. I call and point out the zoning information is clearly stated in paragraph 5 of the notes. Oh, didn't see that. They tell me I must include the area of the site. I inform them it is clearly stated in paragraph 4. Oh, didn't see that.

I wander into the kitchen, muttering, my wife gives me a hug and tells me it'll be okay, and shortly it is.

At Sun Oct 29, 01:11:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

And what makes it even scarier is the Seventh Law of the Dinosaur. (Check out the sidebar.)

At Sun Oct 29, 02:02:00 PM, Blogger Dr. K said...

Great post! Your VO5 comment made me laugh out loud.

At Sun Oct 29, 05:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hilarious. But why be surprised? As Einstein said "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

At Sun Oct 29, 10:27:00 PM, Blogger Red Rabbit said...


You are so getting blogrolled.


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