Reverse Psychology


The ED secretary gets a call from an unknown caller.

“Is Dr. WhiteCoat working? I’ve seen him before and he’s a really good doctor. I only want to see him for my problem. Is he there tonight?”
“Ummm … no, unfortunately he’s not here tonight.”
“Can you tell me when he will be working again?”
“No, ma’am, we can’t give that information out.”
“OK. Thank you.”

Fifteen minutes later, one of our frequent flyers comes limping in with severe back pain and she’s just plum out of Vicodin.

The secretary hears her talking to the registration clerk and recognizes the voice as the person who just called her 15 minutes ago.

You’re good lady. But the doctor that is working isn’t giving you a refill on your Vicodin, either.

Perhaps some Tylenol Extra Strength?


  1. Calling ahead is a dead giveaway; if it’s a real emergency, you don’t call first to see who’s on duty.

  2. The most interesting parts of this are 1) how similar your patients are to the ones I see in the four different community hospitals I work in, and 2) how narcotic pain meds are the ONLY prescriptions that people ever seem to run out of/lose/spill down the drain.

  3. I’ve actually had some folks come in with a migraine headache, can’t handle any light, sound and are just miserable, of course out of their narcotic medication, and allergic to everything but Dilau.. something like that. When done with Triage they ask “by the way, which Dr. is on?” and have them leave when they realize it’s the physician who isn’t going to give them what they want…
    Funny how that happens.. isn’t it?

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