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

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.

I always hated to call doctors period, during the night. There was always this questionable single doctor and his wild love life. I know when I called I really interrupted his hot and heavy sexual escapades. I got nervous, stated what I needed, got off the phone fast and laughed and laughed.

it is very common to doctors who drink here in africa.they rely much on the RN in times of any emmergency at night

I knew when I did my first orientation at my first hospital that doctors were going to be a problem by the way that they versed the learning session.

"How to talk to doctors"

*rolls eyes*

Coming from another profession that doesn't tolerate BS, I know full well how to talk to them,,,and it works well.

You hold their feet to the fire and remind them of their obligation, and don't make it personal, just be all business. They have immense respect if you do,,,they run roughshod over you if you don't.

I can't tell you the number of nurses who just will not call the doc, avoid calling the doc until things get bad, and are in tears, because the docs abused them.

Enough of that kind of thing!

They're grown up boys and girls, make them behave like it!

Not returning the phone call may have been the only responsible action the doc managed that night.

I work in hospice, and even if the Pt's attending is an a** or worse, I can count on our agency (hospice specialized) docs, all of whom are great, even at 0230.

Specializes in psych. rehab nursing, float pool.

I was just telling my beloved about the phone call I received at work a few days ago from a Dr . He had been put on the consult list of a patient who had just been admitted to our unit. He was not the primary care Dr. Just to clear that up.. The gist of the phone call was he was angry that he had been consulted wanted me to the Primary Dr yada yada yada. I tried to reword it as, Would you like me to write Do not consult me unless chronic condition becomes an acute condition . Well yes he agreed I could write that.

Fast forward to yesterday, Primary Dr asks me. What exactly does that order mean? I looked at him and said. I was trying to come up with an appropriate order as I did not think it would be professional to write " * you I am not coming " He laughed, oh he laughed.

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

Oh my goodness, I have completely forgotten that I ever wrote this article.