Another Pet Peeve


elmer_fuddIf you haven’t learned yet, I can’t stand cell phones.
Yes, they have their place in society. But when people gab on them 24/7 and get arthritis in their thumbs from texting, the cell phones are being misused. Talking on a cell phone when I’m in a room is cause for me to leave immediately and see several other patients before I return. If you’re well enough to be gabbing on your cell phone, your severity of illness scale just dropped precipitously.

And … you’re cruising for a bruising if you call it the “Emergency Room” instead of the “Emergency Department” around me. Just ask Nurse K.

So here’s pet peeve #3 of mine:

A mother brought an 8 month old child into the Emergency Department last night with a cough and a fever of 103.8. Now the temperature is up there, but the kid looked OK. We had also seen about 6 other kids that day suffering from the same symptoms and they all had negative workups.

The grandmother was tagging behind mom and baby. And she just happened to be fluent in Baby Talk.

Baby talk to me is like fingernails on a chalkboard. No, it’s worse than fingernails on a chalk board. Literally, my BP shoots up about 50 mmHg when I hear it. If I’m ever in a full arrest, just talk baby talk in my ears. You won’t need the defibrillator. I’ll jump off the bed and go postal on you. My kids know that if I ever even see this Sesame Street “Baby Bear” character on the TV or on the computer, they’ll be grounded … for life.

As I walk into the patient’s room, I hear grandma saying “Ooooh my dood wittwle beeby. We’re donna make you awwwww bettew.”
Her emphasis on the “awwww” sent chills down my spine. In fact, it is giving me a visceral reaction right now as I type it.
“What’s the problem tonight?” I ask.
Grandma blurts out “Our wittwle duy isn’t feewin vewwy good. He had a fevew.”
I grit my teeth and think to myself “I’m sorry, Mrs. Fudd … I didn’t understand you.”
Instead, I ask “So how high was his fever?”
“It was vewwy vawwwy high.”
“Excuse me?” I said as I cocked my head to the side and squinted.
The mom interrupted. “It was 103 at home.”

So I examined him and we did the routine screening stuff … just to make sure.

Everything came back normal and it appeared to be another one of the viral fevers we had seen that night. I gave everyone the discussion about how the “fever isn’t the enemy”, gave them the proper dosing for Motrin, and had them follow up with their pediatrician in a day or two.

A few hours later, we heard an ambulance call go out for a febrile infant.

Shortly afterwards, the same little boy comes rolling by on the ambulance stretcher with mom walking briskly right behind them.

I followed them into the room as mom explained that grandma called the ambulance because the temperature hadn’t gone down and grandma was afraid that the baby would have a seizure.

Grandma came up to the security desk and started ringing the bell like it was the close of trading for the stock market. The security guard let her back without asking anyone.

She ran back searching for Baby Bear’s room, and I could see her through a crack in the curtains as she zeroed in on the paramedics walking out of the room. She busted into the room asking if “everything was alright.”
“Yes, she appears fine,” I told her.

Then she did it.

The Trifecta.

She gets on her cell phone while I’m listening to the kid’s chest and loudly says “We’re back in the emergency room with the baby. I’ll call you when I know more.” Then she gets down in the baby’s face and says “Dis time the dowctor is dunna take bettew cawe of you.”

I thought my damn head was going to explode.

“Ma’am, you’re going to have to wait out in the waiting room. When the emergency department is busy like this, it’s our policy to limit patients to one visitor at a time.”
“But …”
“I’m sorry … but mom is here with him.”
She walked out in a huff.

After she left, the baby’s mom looked at me and said “I know what you’re thinking. She bothers me sometimes, too.”

I gave mom half a smile and a blank stare.

I was still recovering from the spinal shock of that whole Trifecta thing.


  1. Poor WC. I laughed out loud though, as I read. The way you express yourself, even when disgusted, was hilarious to me. I’m with you on the cell phones, ugh! Hope nu feel bettew.

  2. That was a great post. I am sure I would have asked if she had a speech impediment, or replied in baby talk back to her! Thanks for my good laugh for the day.
    and just wondering is it appropriate with this post to name it “errr what’s up doc?!!”

  3. hmmm.. called the ambulance because the baby MAY have a seizure, Wonder what the health plan was.

    Sounds like Grandma needs a little diazepam by proxy.

    BTW – I call it Emergency Room (sorry WC) because nurse K makes me and the number of true emergencies I see in a day would fit in a room, not a department.

  4. The Emergency “Room” seems like a more appropriate to see patients in and “Department” sounds like a place for customers (previous post maybe?). Kind of like the auto “Department” in Sears. ๐Ÿ˜›

  5. Iโ€™ll call you when I know more.

    In her case, that will probably be never. One failure of medicine – there is still no cure for stupid.

    Emergency Rooms – often individually numbered – are separate rooms within the Emergency Department. Unless you are into a Chinese box motif, and try to put smaller and smaller rooms into each other. Some of these emergency rooms are not much bigger than my ambulance. My ambulance is also not an emergency room. It is my office. ๐Ÿ™‚

    In the world of one big kumbaya emergency room, there would be no practice of Hallway Medicine, since your patient is not in the hallway, but in the emergency room. Howe can the patient be in the hallway, if the patient is in the room?

    Emergency room is an anachronism, just as nurses wearing white hats and genuflecting to doctors is an anachronism. At least it should be.

    If department is reminiscent of Sears, maybe unit as in ICU, should be reminiscent of NASA, or Jiffy Lube, or some other non-medical place. Emergency room is just bad English. Maybe it should be classified as Baby Talk?

  6. Oh my gosh! That was hilarious! It could be a scene in a movie.

    I could just see Steve Martin’s face while playing the annoyed doctor.

    I never spoke baby talk to our boys, but I confess…I let them outgrow a few words on their own.

    Older son would say he had an elly bake if he didn’t feel well. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Younger son thought calAppittars were neat and he liked to eat hangleburs. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Belly ache, caterpillars and hamburger. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for the laugh! Trifecta..ha ha ha ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. You can’t stand cell phones, I don’t have one. Never have, never needed one. Mainly because I can’t phone due my impairment but then again I never really saw a need to have them.

    Want to contact me? Mail me!
    Want to chat with me? ICQ me!

    I don’t like being on “call” and available 24/7. No thanks!

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  9. Did she even try the Motrin first? My son had a fever of 107 once. Called the pediatrician because Tylenol was not bringing the fever down. He told me to give him Tylenol and Motrin at the same time. It brought it down to 101 and my son was/is fine.

  10. Too Funny…have been known , regularly ๐Ÿ˜‰ to tilt head & say, Excuse me I couldn’t understand whatever you said,… of course w/ a Killer Smile ;)…..
    Old habits die hard & GUILTY of “ER” terminology….

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  12. Your examples of infantile linguistics hysterically reminds me of the Seinfeld episode “The Hamptons,” as the mother speaks to her child in this timbre, Elaine walks over to see the baby and is aghast by it. In a conversation with Jerry later in the episode she described the child as looking like a Pekingese with Jerry adding, it’s the ugliest baby…

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