Friday, January 05, 2007

And How Was Your Day?


[posted by dinah]

Before I start:

ClinkShrink, please forgive me for posting over you. I need to vent, badly. I'll never do it again, really.
World: Please scroll down to Clink's wonderful post on
Keeping The Faith, it's really great.

We've been talking about coverage, returning calls, standards of care: see the posts below (below Clink's wonderful Keeping the Faith post).

So, this stuff has been on my mind, and I've been thinking about Older & Wiser CoveringDoc's Guest Blogger comments about the expectation that emergency calls should be returned within 30 minutes.


So, this morning, I'm steaming my wrinkled clothes and I hear my cell/office phone. Normally, I'd let it roll to voicemail, but I've got this blog stuff on my mind, so I go glance at the number. It's a familiar number and I think it's a patient who recently had a suicidal crisis over a holiday (and yes, I called back on the weekend, several times). I answer the call, only it's not that patient, it's someone new, looking for an appointment, she tells me her name (which never registers) and who referred her. The steamer is on in the next room, my schedule is downstairs, I ask if I can call back in ten minutes. I don't have a pen/paper, but that's okay, the number is on my cell phone, I'll call right back. Ten minutes. I finish steaming, get dressed, grab my cell phone, coffee cup, and a basket of laundry and head downstairs. I throw the laundry in the wash, find my schedule, and go to return the call. Where's my cell phone? And, I think, as I call it from the house phone and don't hear it ring anywhere, what was that funny clunk I heard when I started the laundry? Well, I find my cell phone, very clean and very dead, in the bottom of the washing machine. It's now 9:30 and I have my first patient at 10, I need to get going, but my office line is my cell phone, so I'll have no phone for the day. Sort of panicked, I change my voicemail message, noting that my phone has been submerged and that I may have trouble both retrieving and returning calls for the day (please don't report me to the shrink police, CoveringDoc). I leave a message for the psychiatrist across the hall letting him know I will be showing up in his office to borrow his phone and check my messages. And then I remember the new patient who wanted the appointment. I don't know her name, I don't have her number, I feel awful as I'll just be totally blowing her off, and my final call before I dash out the door to my phone-free day is to the referring psychiatrist. I leave a message on his machine (but I don't dial his emergency number) asking if he could leave me a message if he knows who he referred to me and has a phone number.

It should have been a quiet day, but I was a little anxious without my phone (think Linus and that blanket). My husband called, heard the message and suggested I get something waterproof-- this is my second drowned phone.

So, I'm spending friday night learning to work my new phone. Referring doc actually had phone numbers, and 9 hours after my promise of "I'll call you back in ten minutes," I reached the prospective patient, apologized profusely and explained the drowned phone in the laundry story, and somehow she still wanted an appointment with Ditzy Doc (that would be me).

And what did you do today?

13 comments:

ClinkShrink said...

Poor Dinah. This is why abf and I both love you---you need it!

I heard once on the SlashDot Review podcast that you could take the phone apart, let it dry out and sometimes it would work again? I'm guessing you've probably already tried it.

If it's any comfort, your Diet Coke is waiting here for you tomorrow. I also have Godiva chocolate and chocolate raspberry coffee. You can bring Max if you (and he) want.

Midwife with a Knife said...

Dinah: I'm sorry about your phone! That sounds like a big pain in the ass.

Reminds me of the time as an intern I dropped my pager into the toilet.... or maybe it was flung my pager into the toilet. Heh.

NeoNurseChic said...

Clink, We've tried that in my family for my brother and aunt's phones and it hasn't worked! Never had to try it on my own phone. However, I did have a phone pretty much explode on me one morning as I was going to work. It was already on its last leg, and I picked it up to go out the door, and it flew into the air in like 5 pieces - I'm not kidding! Mouth agape, I just stared at the phone and then laughed at my own dumb luck.

Dinah - what kind of phone did you get? I need to upgrade my Verizon LG picture phone because this one is also on the verge of doing the explosion into several pieces thing. (I'm really a huge klutz when it comes to things like this...my ipod has a nice case around it!)

Glad to hear the new patient was okay with not being called back right away - if somebody told me that story and I was going to make an appointment with them, it would probably make them seem more human to me. BUT - I don't know if I've written this story on my blog - my first neuro at the headache center originally did a consult on me before I ever switched to seeing him. At the end of the consult, he picked up his case to leave, and everything fell out all over the floor....we were picking up push pins off the floor for the next few days! Then when I went to the headache center for my new patient appt, I didn't know that he was the doc I was assigned - and when he walked out to call me back, I turned to my mom and whispered, "Oh no! It's him!" We later became very good friends - he's a mentor of mine, and we still stay in touch, even though he now lives in Singapore. I just told him that story for the first time recently - I guess I was afraid of making him feel embarrassed or something. He wrote back an email that said something like, "Thanks for the memories. I'm such a klutz." hahaha... ;)

Have fun with the new phone!
Carrie :)

SEAMONKEY said...

Automatic pilot claims another victim! Distraction has never been so dangerous as in these technological times.

But you have a strong sense of duty, which certainly outweighs such tiny lapses of attention. And where does that sense of duty come from? I don't have it to that degree. Few people do, I think.

Sarebear said...

You might've been able to get the info off it at a cell phone store (my hubby is a cell phone tech at a major brand cell phone provider's store). He deals with this stuff all the time.

Course, it's a lot more gross when it's been drowned in the TOILET. Happens alot more often than you'd think; I wonder how the person explains to the person on the other end, later, the thunk/splash sound.

Gee, I was sitting in the pool in the middle of December . . . . Lol.

What you also need to do is purchase the extra insurance the phone provider offers at the store; I know in my husband's employer's case, purchasing this coverage covers the phone getting wet. Even being on a cell phone near a boiling pot could get damp in the phone (and there are indicator stickers on and in the phone that change when damp, so they can tell, even if your phone was never "submerged).

Oh, and please be kind to these techs; they get all sorts of realy horrid people being really horrid to them!

ClinkShrink said...

OK, for all you folks who dunk your phones in toilets and agitate them in washing machines, this is what you need:

Machine-washable Cell Phone

Rach said...

Dinah - I hope you're at least able to recover some data/saved info from your phone. Maybe you ought to get a leash for it??? I keep saying that I'm going to staple my blackberry to my forehead one of these days - i always put it down and lose it.


Just out of curiosity - maybe Dinah, Clink or Roy could clarify this for me - wouldn't there be a concern regarding confidentiality if calls are being taken/ returned from a cell phone (as opposed to a wired land line). My understanding is that Cell phones can easily be tapped... which is why I've been told never to discuss any sensitive issue while on my cell.

ClinkShrink said...

I like the idea of a cell phone leash.

Interesting question about the use of cell phones and confidentiality. Off the top of my head I've never heard of any cases involving this issue; my gut instinct is that you'd have to decide what the reasonable physician would do to preserve confidentiality & where the limits are for that. Similiar to the issue of medical records, you'd take reasonable steps to ensure the security of your files but that doesn't mean that some Watergate burglar couldn't break into your office and steal them. Reasonable protection does not mean an absolute guarantee of confidentiality.

It's a great comment though---how far do you have to go to protect your patients' confidentiality from criminals who tap into your cellphone, break into your office or hack your computer? How many people encrypt their practice-related email? I may explore this idea a bit.

Then again, the government is mining the ATT call centers for data anyway so even landlines aren't guaranteed secure.

Dinah said...

I'm still trying to figure out why anyone would Want to listen in on my cell calls.

Who would want to know that Mrs. X wants an appointment on Thursday, that Mr. Z is feeling a little more anxious and is it okay if he goes up on his dose of SSRI, that my kid is wants to go to friend's house after school, that Camel's kid won the race in the sport-of-the-moment?

Face it, my every thought is on a blog, you don't need to listen to my cell phone calls. And if you do, you just aren't going to learn anything too interesting.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

In spite of the dire concerns, I think people are going to be looking for reasonable attempts to be available. I recall the death of Marilyn Monroe as having on Greenson's, her analyst's, side, the fact that he had been at a party and was out of pocket for a bit. I guess that's ages ago but I still think people expect you to have something of a life and for communications to be imperfect; just don't spurn them. This discussion leads me to reflect on psychiatry getting beepers at my VA, some time after housekeeping did. Perspective.

Sarebear said...

I haven't commented on this topic or related ones, because I'm TORKED that my ologist hasn't called me back.

I left him a msg. to give me a call about spending a few minutes talking about psychiatrists I'm looking at for my new one. I took names and info off my insurance co.'s list, and sorted it by distance. I wanted to ask him his opinion of the closest 3 or so.

But, no, I'm left twiddling my hands, waiting even LONGER until I start interviewing shrinks. I haven't seen my ologist in two weeks because I was rather ill this week; that's another reason I needed him to call, was to confirm the appt's for January, as the last time I was with him he asked about that, and I couldn't, because my husband didn't have his January work schedule at that time.

ANYWAY! this last half year or so, he seems to get distracted by other things that pop up, or whatnot, when he's been meaning to get back to me, and ends up forgetting.

I'm gonna ask him if he's got any transference issues, lol!

Anyway. Sorry to ramble, but my sole mental health provider at the mo and I seem to be . . . not worth much? I dunno. Anyway, I'm p.o.'d.

Guess I'll call him tomorrow and see what happens.

Rach said...

Clink... Interesting point about the email as well. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) put in place these guidelines found at: http://www.cpso.on.ca/policies/medical%20records/medicalrec3.htm

The ethics of electronic devices when it comes to medical care is quite interesting... but then again, one need only look as far as my psychiatrist having conversations about patients on the phone in front of me...

Carolyn Cummings said...

I know this is an old post, but I was reading it and thinking about how transparency and congruency are often such positive tools. I don't whatever happened with your client, but our professions sometimes seem to be shrouded in a mythical mystique- it probably helped her to see you as a real person and not some sort of guru disconnected from the realities of absentmindedness and other common human maladies. After all, if you can lose your phone in the toilet and still be a successful shrink, she will probably be okay, too.