“So how do we do this what are we doing?”
We peered at the computer screen as my partner typed her login. “Goddamnit, we need to set a new password.”
I have yet to see a hospital computer using at least a Windows XP and this one was no exception. As the screen loaded slowly I tried to curb my frustration. We’d been dropped into a consult room and told to see some patients and we had no idea what the process even was. The registrar was not unkind, but there was a lack of communication of vital information (like how do we find out which patients we’re meant to see). And there was a fine line between asking the perfect amount of questions and asking way too many to the point of wasting the registrars’ time.
After about 20 minutes of fluffing around trying to log in to the right programs, working out where to find the outpatient progress note, and realising that we needed IT support to add the patient calling program to my friend’s profile, we were finally ready to begin.
“So who do we want to see?”
“We don’t know what they’re in for, what if it’s something we don’t know at all.”
“Oh god, how about we just look through their details and see if it’s an easy one or not.”
We selected our first patient, but she hadn’t arrived yet (she didn’t arrive at all in the end), so in fear of being accused of dawdling we decided to choose another patient. My partner and I took turns leading the consult, feeling more and more comfortable with every session. Before the end of each consult we would consult with the registrars about their X-Rays and their management plan and then relay it to the patient. Thankfully, every person we saw had no qualms about the fact that they were talking to medical students, and we were greeted by smiles and no condescension.
“This isn’t too bad.” My partner said, in between patients. “I think we’re doing alright.” I agreed. I was less anxious now and feeling a bit more invigorated, and more useful. We were looking through the notes of a patient and was about to click the call button when her status was changed to “Called to Consult room Yellow 11.” I paused. “That’s not us. Why has she been called to 11, we’re Consult Blue 12.”
“But I’ve got the notes.” What we knew the system to be was that if you intended to see the patient you would go into the drawer, pick up the patient notes and take it to your room. Therefore if someone else was to have the same intention, they’d see the missing notes and realise the patient was being seen to. Yet our patient had been called to another room…whilst we sat in ours holding her notes.
“What do we do? We can’t just knock, can we?” I grimaced. On the one hand we could knock, interrupt the consult to let the resident know that he just so happened to be seeing the patient without the notes which might give off an impression of incompetency, or we could wait and give it to him afterwards. We decided on the latter.
Standing outside the room, I felt mildly uncomfortable. We were feeling a bit (for a lack of a better word) shafted by this particular doctor. The registrars were kind and happy to listen to us report back, whereas this resident seemed to dislike our very presence, and had even made an offhand comment during ward rounds about us not needing to attend clinic even after the registrars had extended the invitation. First impressions count, and he did not make a good one.
The door opened, and the patient left. He swivelled around and looked at us.
“Um, sorry, we’ve just got her notes we were wondering if you wanted them.” He smiled (sort of). “Oh uh, I just did it electronically, so, I don’t really need them. But thanks, I suppose.” We gave them to him and returned to our room.
“I don’t like him.” My partner said. I agreed. His tone seemed slightly irritated that we had the audacity to come and give him the patient notes. “We’re not the ones who just ignored the system and did our own thing.” We had a bit of a mumble and grumble before we decided on our next patient.
And that one, is another story.