Please hang up the darn phone!

Specialties Emergency


Have you ever found yourself feeling the urge to wrap a phone cord around someones neck?

Scenario #1 - EMS brings in a patient non-emergent with no apparent distress, (in report they clued you in that patient said she has not had family members visit in awhile) and before you can even get the patient from the EMS stretcher to the ER stretcher, the phone in the exam room is ringing off the hook. The patient insists on answering the phone because, "That's probably my family". So there you are - EMS is getting another call as they look at you and tap their foot, and triage just brought you 2 more patients as this one is on the phone saying, "Yeah. I had to call the ambulance. I just don't feel good today ... Yeah, ya'll can come see me - call Boo and tell him I am in the Emergency Room so he can call everyone else."

Scenario #2 - You are working in the non-critical area ("urgent care" pod) on a slamming Sunday. You already get to look forward to 2 hours overtime to finish all the paper work/incident reports on all the patients that left without tx because they were "Tired of waiting". You walk in an exam room with discharge papers for Mom to sign that basically state "OK - nothing was wrong with your child AGAIN today - but should they become ill, come see us" and there is Mom ... on the phone just as she has been during the whole visit - and as you stand there thinking of the 100 other things you need to be doing, she just leisurely continues her conversation about her date last night as if you aren't even standing there!

Scenario #3 - Grandma was an emergency - she is very ill, and seems to feel comforted by her grand daughter that arrived shortly after her at the ER. Grand daughter gets on the phone calling various family / friends and tearfully shares, "Grandma is very sick". You truly feel empathetic for this young girl as her tears continue to flow ... and you over hear her calling her job - (still sobbing very heavily) to let them know she won't be in to work because, "Grandma is very sick and I don't know when I'll be able to come back to work because I have to stay with her". Then ... presto! No tears as she approaches you and says, "So are ya'll going to keep her or what?" After explaining that Grandma is very unstable, and IF she survives, she will be admitted - grand daughter proceeds to say, "Oh - ok - well, I'll check back in a couple of days if we don't hear anything." And she proceeds to leave.

:confused: What the ...

V. Nightingale

51 Posts

Oh yes! Been there, seen that. Can't get them triaged or treated because they're too busy chatting. Of course, I have been known to simply say (very sweetly) "Ma'am, you need to hang up the phone. Now."


9 Posts

I think we've all been there. I recall one experience, that maybe I didn't handle the best way I could have but it was effective. I had one huge family calling constantly about my patient. I literally talked to a different family member about every 10 minutes. I finally asked my patient who they would like to act as the go-between. I discussed things only with this one person, and explained to the family that they would need to get the information from them, because the more time I spent on the phone with family was less time I had to actually care for their loved one. Once it was put to them in sort of a "I could give my time to you or your loved one" manner, the family got the point and stopped calling me.


1,093 Posts

this is a huge pet peeve of mine - it i call someone out of the waiting room and 1) they are out smoking 2) they are working the vending machines or 3) they are on the phone

if they don't immediately respond - well - they get bumped - no if/and's or buts.......

when they come in by ambo - i take the phone and hang it up - i have no problem doing this - i have a job to do - i have critical patients to get back to and i am not waiting for their phone conversation - let's just say that i have been called quite a few names - but i truly don't care !!

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