When Good Phone Calls to the Doctor Go Bad

We all have to call doctors at home sometimes, about our patients. Shoot, nowadays I have to do it about 3-4 times a night, on average. Nurses Announcements Archive Article

When Good Phone Calls to the Doctor Go Bad

Being a seasoned nurse now, it doesn't bother me much at all, to have to call. However, back when I first began my RN career, there were doctors that would make me shake and shudder in my NurseMates, just at the thought of having to call them. So, it was nice to occasionally have something to laugh about after making that two AM phone call. ?

One night, pretty late, I had to call a general practitioner about one of her partner's patients. I dialed her pager number, put in my number, hung up the phone, and waited. I waited about a half an hour when I heard a phone ring... in a PATIENT'S room. "That's strange," I thought. "Those phones aren't supposed to ring this late." I went into the room, picked up the phone, and was like.... "..Hello??"

"Hello???" the voice on the other end said. It was the doctor that I had paged! I laughed, then told her what I needed.

Fortunately, it was an EMPTY room. I could just imagine some poor, confused patient answering that phone, at two am!


Then there was the time that I had to page the orthopedist, about one of his patients. Now, this particular doctor had a reputation for being old and crotchety, grumpy on the phone... and he also had a reputation for being a drunk. Now, I certainly don't know whether this particular bit of information was actually true, but... well... I'll just NEVER know what was going on at the other end, this particular evening...

My patient had, in her words, "fallen on her fat butt", while attempting to get up and use her bedside commode on her own. I helped her back into bed, checked her for bruises or other markings.. she assured me that she had no new pain and did not feel like she had hurt herself further... and then I went to page her doctor, our dear orthopedist.

I paged him once, with no return call. I then paged him a second time, still with no reply. The third time, I tried calling his home phone. I dialed the number... his phone was ringing... it rang about five times until I heard someone pick up. Silence, no "Hello?" or anything. "Hello, Dr. So-and-So?" I said. More silence.. and then, this is what I heard:


Well..... since there was no emergency or anything, I simply filled out the incident report, charted that I was not able to reach the doctor, had a nice little chuckle, and went on. In retrospect, I guess maybe I should have had someone go to the doc's house and make sure that this person, WHOMEVER it was that actually answered the phone (for all I know, it was the doctor's drunken son or somebody), was okay!

Whatever the case was... that doctor WASN'T taking any calls that night.

(allnurses Guide)

The big tall red head.

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Specializes in med-surg,sa,breast & cervical ca.




those doctors sure are funny.! haha! on your first story, if it's me, i might not answer the phone. scary....

n your second story, sad to say there are really some doctors like that. they don't realize that whne their patients are in the hospital, everything is a concern because everything should be documented even if it's just "a not so important thing".

Specializes in Med/Surge, Psych, LTC, Home Health.

Well, I had a strong suspicion actually, that it was the doctor. :) I mean, in the first story.

Sounds very familiar, I once had a doctor say "what would you do?" forgot off-hand exactly why I had called, but I "asked" him if we could possibly ....... he said between yawns "sounds good" and hung up. I wrote it as an order LOL.

Specializes in OB.

One of my favorite late night doctor calls: I called the on call doc for OB patient (at this facility they had to come in to physically see the pt. before she could be sent home from a labor check). He lived on the compound around the hospital, maybe a 2 minute walk away. Forty-five minutes later he still had not come in and I was about to call him back when he came running in. Seems his wife awoke and found him sound asleep with the telephone receiver on his forehead, nudged him and said "Honey, do you need to be somewhere?"

Another doc, when I called him to come in, told his wife (also a doc at our facility) that he was going to (Baglady's) house. Her reply "That's nice dear, but I'm sure she'd rather see you at the hospital"! She was still chuckling about it when she told me in the morning.

Speaking of doctors with a reputation for drinking. One of my co-workers had to call this one particular doctor. She paged several times, then called his house. His wife answers and say, "Will if you can figure out which bar he is in." Well the nurse finally gets him to answer his cell phone and she said it definitely sound like a bar in the background. The sad thing about this situation is that he was covering the weekend for two other doctors. I've actually had to call one of the doctors that he was covering for on another occasion. His wife yelled at me that he was off this weekend. Well the doctor grabbed the phone from her. I explained that we had been trying for an hour and a half to contact the other doctor. He was very understanding and gave me the order I needed for his patient. It's sad that there are doctors out there like this.

Specializes in Med-Surge, PACU, now Hospice.

I had to call a MD once and was chewed out by him. It was only around 11:30pm which isn't too late by night shift standards. His patient was "circling the drain" and I was on my way to ICU with her. Figured I'd get some orders just to make the transfer official. He was furious that I had called. Seems his 2 toddlers were sick and had kept him awake. I had had probs with his attitude before and before I could think I blurted out that "calls are part of the territory for a surgeon. If you don't want to be called you should have gone into dermatology". Now, I don't recommend anyone doing that, but he ticked me off! He didn't talk to me for about 2 wks after - the silence was golden!!!

Specializes in Aged Care/Dementia/Palliative.

? circling the drain?????

priceless LOL

Doctors can mean to be funny or rather weird!! I once worked at Labour ward where we used to receive any woman who presented at night with anything to do with pregnancy at whatever stage as the A AND E did not have any Obs n Gynae Specialist on call.

On this particular night, I paged an Obs n Gynae Doctor, 1st on call and apparently he had been dining n wining somewhere assuming that the night was going to be light as it was mid month. The Maternity / Labour ward used to be very busy during end month( including Gynae Ward) when criminal abortions were mostly on the increase as people could afford to pay the quaks to start off the criminal abortions and thet end up in the hospital as inevitable abortion to be assisted!!

Well, back to our Special drunken doctor on call, he responded and came to attend this lady who had noticed lady partsl bleeding at 22 weeks of gestation.

The conversation between her and the doctor was as follows:

DR: What happenned?

Patient: I was asleep at around 10pm when I noticed that I was bleeding .

DR: With whom were you sleeping?

Patient: With my husband.

DR: And what were you doing?

At this time, I was starting to feel uncomfortable as the Dr. was not even looking serious and the patient was still bleeding profusely!!

The Second Doctor on call was informed and came immediatelly and took over the patient , ordered emergency evacuation in theater!!!

The drunken Doctor was given time off to go and sober up for the night and await some grilling the next day. I believe he did not go very far at that hospital after that incident.

Specializes in ortho, hospice volunteer, psych,.

:yeah:I loved the second story especially!!:paw::paw: