Compassion defect

I write all these nice things here. Here's one that's less nice.


Overnight call on our labor floor starts at 5 pm. It's actually technically impossible for me to finish up at clinic and drive 25 minutes (traffic permitting) by 5 pm, so I'm always late, and I always arrive stressed, and feeling bad for the doctors who have already been there for 10 hours*. I usually start getting paged while negotiating the trafficor the parking - not by the MDs on L&D, who know I'm already rushing, but by patients, because their offices have closed.

 I finally get to Labor and Delivery, and I'm getting sign out on what is, of course (of course!) a very full board** of complicated patients with dysfunctional labors. I ask the day doctor to stay for five minutes more so I can run upstairs, and change into scrubs.

Except that there's construction upstairs, so there's no call room, and no scrub machine where they used to be. I find the other nighttime attending, and she shows me the scrub machine (relocated, but fine) and the new call room (relocated, and fetid).

During this lap of exploration around the upstairs hospital floor, my pager goes off. I call the page operator back, and get connected to the patient while struggling with the combination lock to get into the call room. She's five weeks pregnant,and has started spotting, and her doctor told her to call back later if it continued. I talk to her while I change out of my shirt: it's light bleeding, she doesn't know if she's Rh negative. I start telling her that her bleeding sounds pretty minor; that it's hard to tell what's going on without an ultrasound, and that regardless, there's not much we can do at this time. Inwardly, I'm cursing the doctor who told her to call back, because WHY? when I can do nothing for her, so THANKS BUDDY for not making a good plan for your patient. I tell the patient to sit tight, because although she can come in to the emergency room, she thankfully doesn't qualify as an emergency right now.

During this part of the discussion, I am having trouble maneuvering my shirt around my head, and I drop the phone. CLUNK. She's still there. I pick the phone up to to tell her not to worry too much, and how to know if she's bleeding too much, and when to come into the ED.

Someone starts opening my call room door. not dressed. I panic, and yell at the door: "I"m in here, don't come in, I'm not dressed". I blurt at the phone: "OK, so come in if you're bleeding-more-than-one-pad-an-hour-and-call-your-office-in-the-morning-for-an-ultrasound", then accidentally drop the phone again while trying to pull my pants on, which hangs up on her.

I open the door while tying my scrub pants and picking up my phone. It's my daytime colleague. One of the patients downstairs needs an urgent section, and she really shouldn't start it, or she'll never leave. I run downstairs, now dressed. I don't even remember about this 5-weeks-pregnant-with-spotting-lady until a week later. I think she might just hate me; that is understandable. I really hope she's ok.

 *Systems issue, I know. I'm not gonna fix it today. **The white board that we put patients on, and use to run L&D, and is generally the nerve center for the whole floor.