Thursday, June 29, 2006

Triage Tales 16

Disclaimer: The following story is a work of fiction. All similarities to people, places, things and events are coincidental by nature.

20-something woman comes to the ER presenting with a swollen L jaw. "I want to file a complaint against someone," she tells the Triage Officer. "He slapped me so hard."

Vital signs were taken and were found to be within normal limits. She was instructed to fill out the patient information form and submit it to the Records clerks a few feet away.

No longer than 10 minutes have elapsed when she comes marching towards the triage table.

"Look, I'm here, for a simple medico-legal examination. Someone at 'headquarters' told me that this is a government hospital, and I don't have to pay anything for the examination. Then the clerk tells me I have to pay something? What should I believe? ..." and she trails off.

The Triage Officer incredulously looks at her, hand signals the woman to stop talking, and asks (in a moderate tone) "Wait a second, stop, and tell me why are you so agitated?"

"Because I'm not supposed to pay anything and yet that guy at Records tells me to pay for something? I was told..."*

"Is that all ma'am? You were asked to pay SEVEN PESOS for the card and chart."

By that time all the people waiting at the Triage Area have seen the woman with a swollen jaw complaining of why she was being forced to pay what was apparently an amount less than the standard Manila jeepney fare.

The woman, taken aback, could only muster a "Oh, really?"

The Triage Officer leans forward and asks again, "Is that all that made you agitated?"

The woman nonchalantly replies, "Well, I was not agitated, I was only asking... you were the one agitated."

The Triage Officer drops his jaw. He thinks that, maybe, there was really a reason why she was slapped in the first place.

*Post-script: A more experienced Emergency Medicine resident would have given the woman the P7.00 when she was rattling about like a pebble in a champagne bottle.

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