Dealing with minor illnesses

Image by thepatrick on flickr

Image by thepatrick on flickr

Part 3 of a mini-series

I am currently posting about some calls I have been to where people have either behaved inappropriately or seemingly called the ambulance service inappropriately.  I fully acknowledge that sometimes people react out of panic, and sometimes people do things because they are stressed. However, I would never dream of talking to a member of the uniformed services the way that some people talk to me. And sometimes, just sometimes, I just do not understand some people’s thought processes, and I believe I can normally take a fairly reasoned view of these situations.  I would love to hear what you think of these stories – please write a comment at the bottom of the post.

Isn’t it all like ‘Casualty’?

With a massive train collision or aircraft accident occurring regularly in Holby, the local paramedics must be in a constant state of hypervigilance and frenzy – my job in sleepy London seems sedate by comparison.  In fact if I was asked to write another book that focused on the nonsense cases that I have seen, it would be much less of a challenge for me than trying to write another one depicting a career full of trauma and excitement.

I work regularly in Urgent Care and Walk in Centres; the patients who present themselves in these types of settings therefore mostly bring themselves in under their own steam and by definition the majority will be fairly minor type cases. Just exactly how minor some of them can be may surprise you though.

Clearasil, madam?

One young lady came in with a spot on her chin. Apparently she’d had one before and didn’t like the mark that it left so wanted me to do something about it to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again.

Another lady reported that she had woken up feeling fine, eaten breakfast – still fine, had a shower – still fine. Looked in the mirror and found that her cheeks were pink. Without delay she brought herself along for a ‘check up’ – still feeling completely fine I must add. I told her that her cheeks didn’t even look very pink – on the contrary they looked perfectly normal – to which she replied “If you knew me you wouldn’t say that”.

Quick, call an ambulance!

Those cases were minot but at least these people sought reassurance from non emergency services; the next couple weren’t quite so considerate:

During a particularly busy period I was called to a supermarket by a young man who had called 999. He was waiting by the front doors of the shop with all his shopping bags at his feet chatting happily on his mobile phone to a friend while he casually waited for the arrival of the ambulance. Eventually he stopped chatting and identified himself to me. It transpired that FOUR hours earlier he had been stung on the foot by a wasp. It wasn’t too painful so he decided to take the bus to do the weekly shop. As he was about to leave the shop he felt it may be a good idea to call an ambulance and go to hospital for a ‘check up’. The sting was virtually impossible to see and he had no other symptoms. I pointed out that I had responded to his call for help on blue lights and sirens when a trip to a pharmacy would have been more than enough for this type of situation. And because it really was very inappropriate to have dialled 999 for such a minor thing (a practically non-existent thing in fact) I actually told him off quite firmly. I still don’t think he got my point because he then cheekily asked me if I would mind giving him a lift home – suffice to say, I declined!

I have also been to a man who was feeling very sorry for himself and had dialled 999. I asked him what was wrong;

I have a headache, my eyes are watering, I’m hot and when I blow my nose – it’s green!” he sobbed pathetically.

“It sounds rather like you may have a common cold then” I replied patiently.

“Well I think I need a check up to be on the safe side” he whimpered. In my head I mumbled that he needed something else completely – but I smiled and outwardly suggested that a cup of tea and two Paracetamol may help for the time being!

Any thoughts?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these cases. Are you shocked by them? Let me know by leaving a comment.


No Responses to Dealing with minor illnesses

  1. Josh says:

    Some people never fail to amaze do they. I’m very shocked by all of these call outs, seriously I would love to know what the “spot of the chin” lady actually thinks you can do to help her? :D

    • Lysa says:

      Thanks Josh – yes I do find it strange what some people will call us out for. I made a conscious decision years ago to not let it stress me out – but that never stops me being amazed at times.

      Perhaps people find less support available from extended family and neighbours than they could historically. Many say they call us because they can’t get a GP appointment, some think they will get seen quicker in A&E if they have arrived by ambulance (by the way, they won’t). Some say that they can’t afford a taxi or hospital parking, others have compensation in mind and believe it strengthens their claim. Or, maybe people simply call because they can. Ultimately, it is probably a combination of factors and there are no simple answers.

  2. Lauren says:

    In all honesty, I can believe these calls. When I’ve been on placements some of the calls I get called out to are unreal. I’ve had someone who’s only problem in life was a toenail that was beginning to ingrow slightly, along with another patient that rang 999 for pain in his foot after falling off his bike a week ago and walking normally on it ever since!

    I also went to an old lady that just wanted me to turn the light on for her which although was a complete waste of time I didn’t have the heart to tell her off as she was adorable.

    What continually amazes me is the front some people have to call 999 for such trivial problems, I just wouldn’t dare!

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