Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Those stupid ER Docs

I am in my second year of Emergency Medicine Residency. It is an interesting specialty because we tend to be universally hated by every other specialty because they view us an "unintelligent" since we are not as skilled at their specialty as they are. Hence the following statement, albeit in jest, by my ICU attending,

Attending: This lady suffered an anoxic brain injury and will probably end up in a vegetative state, she must be applying for ER residency.

Of course, I reply with a hearty laugh and let it roll off my shoulders. The truth is I wanted to say, "do you even know what we deal with in a day?" "Do you really, truly think we call you for every old guy with a cough?" "Do you realize that yours is probably the only specialty that you are more versed in than a fully, residency trained ER doc?"

Now, I would never say these things because they are not helpful. We, as ER physicians are put in a place where we are viewed as stupid because any time we call another specialist, we are asking for help. Yes, maybe this is the third abdominal pain I am calling the surgeon about in a single night. But I am not a surgeon and I need help with this particular case. The surgeon is not aware of the 10 other abdominal pains I already sent home that night.

So from an ER doc in training, I apologize that I am not as good at all other specialties as my own, and I am sorry that whenever I call I am giving you work to do. But I have to say that I do not view an ophthalmologist as stupid because he probably couldn't diagnose brugada syndrome on an EKG, I don't view an orthopedic surgeon as stupid because she would have a hard time performing RSI. I don't think the hospitalist is unintelligent for not being able to emergently perform a lateral canthotomy. We, as emergency docs, have to be able to do all these things and sometimes, we have to ask for help. So, can't we all just get along? (Insert "Why can't we be friends?" here).

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