Thursday, December 31, 2009

Answering service fun

Mrs. Soma is well known to our call rotation. When Dr. Brain isn't on, she routinely tries to get a remarkable variety of pain relievers from the rest of us. She's been shut down many times in the past, but is remarkably optimistic (or forgetful) and keeps trying.

So it was no surprise when Dr. Brain's answering service relayed a message that she was looking for Vicodin. I called her back, and said no. She asked if there was another doctor she could talk to (she always does). I said no and hung up.

Ten minutes later I get called by the answering service again:

Dr. Grumpy: "This is Dr. Grumpy."

Ms. Supervisor: "Yes, I'm the service supervisor. Mrs. Soma called back, and says she needs Vicodin."

Dr. Grumpy: "I told her no."

Ms. Supervisor: "But she called back and asked again."

Dr. Grumpy: "The answer is still no."

Ms. Supervisor: "She sounds awful!"

Dr. Grumpy: "She always does. She's been doing this for over 10 years."

Ms. Supervisor: "Well, I"m tired of her calling my operators. We have a lot of calls to answer."

Dr. Grumpy: "Okay. Tell her that."

Ms. Supervisor: "Can't you just give her one Vicodin to shut her up?"

Dr. Grumpy: "Wha...? NO! I can't believe you just asked me that."

Ms. Supervisor: "She's just driving us nuts."

Dr. Grumpy: "Sorry."

Ms. Supervisor: "Happy new year."


TiredRPh said...

Just like giving a screaming child what they want. If you give in, they don't learn. Although Ms. Soma doesn't seem to learn anyway. The answering service lady is a piece of work. Happy New Year!

The Duchess said...

I worked for an answering service when I was I can empathize. We answered for a handful of "regular" doctors, but the calls we hated to get were from the only psychiatric clinic in the area. We kept a special notebook (this was pre-computer least for the answering service anyway) just for calls from the clinic. Because we charged them TRIPLE the cost of the regular docs, we had to log all conversations as close to verbatim as possible. We all had to read the log from the days before so we knew what to expect. We had several patients that would try to manipulate us to get the on-calls to prescribe for them...and it was 400x worse on holidays. There were a few that we had to post background information on (sexual predator, violent tendencies, etc.) for the operator's protection. Of course, they couldn't give us protected info, but anyone with a police history had their names (and pictures in some cases) on our "wall of nutcases."

In addition to the doctor's office calls, we answered incoming ship-to-shore calls for guidance through our bar (coastal town), dispatched tugboats and longshoremen, answered for the local cable company and a good 40+ other businesses, monitored home and business alarm systems, and were operators of a large mobile radio network (pre-cell days).

Keep in mind this was will have made the job easier, but growth would likely increase the call volume can probably appreciate how busy your on-call answering service is today. That still doesn't give her the right to talk to you that way - I probably would have snapped back "Welcome to doing YOUR JOB."

Which is why I don't work with people anymore :)

The Duchess said...

Oh, and happy New Year Dr. G!

Lipstick said...

Just dying laughing at the name you gave her, "Mrs. Soma." (Actually you always assign great names). Is Soma a controlled substance in your state? It's not in my state, but it is in the adjacent state.

We used to have a pt who always requested the "Somas with DAN on them." Eyeroll...

Happy New Year, Dr. G!

Barb said...

Dr. Grumpy,
Can I have a vicodin? Hehe. My 83-yr-old mom broke her hip last spring. I asked her how she was doing a few days later, and she said "I found out I like Vicodin!" Too cute. Much cuter than a drug-seeker anyway.

Anonymous said...

So they can't just hang up on her?

Hey, You said...

Is Ms. Supervisor's voice anything similar to Mrs. Soma's voice?

Just askin'.

MCT said...

patients think they are so smart sometimes...especially the ones looking for those pain killers.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Hey you- I thought about that, but they're very different.

terri c said...

Well, given that Mrs. Soma is probably wanting upwards of 30 Vicodin per day one would probably not shut her up. Could you tell her that there has been a huge Vicodin recall--it has been discovered that Vicodin causes weight gain, or facial hair, or something?

We heart you, Dr. G., in a totally non-stalkerish way. Happy New Year!

J-Quell'n said...

Happy Grumpy New Year!!!

Suzanne said...

Thanks, Dr. Grumpy! I've been bed-ridden this week with a nasty resp. infection. Reading your regular updates has really helped.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Kimbra Kasch said...

Maybe give the Vicodin to Ms. Supervisor to keep her quiet ;)

Anonymous said...

You know junkies don't forget. Their mantra is "If you don't ask, you don't get." Even if that means asking 1,000 times.

Happy New Year!

LD50 Rat

Anonymous said...

This reminded me of a customer that used to call our pharmacy one day at least every 5 minutes seeing if her doc refilled her Lortabs and soma. That is when we looked her up on the computer(we have that in LA), and she was seeing 8 other docs going to 8 other pharmacies. After that, she could no longer go to those 9 docs or pharmacies. Never saw her again!

Mari-Ann said...

Dear God, I'm a Ms. Supervisor! Although I would never suggest that you enable her, I understand exactly how the answering service felt. We have our own Ms. and Mr. Somas and we have the doctors who made them that way, not that I am in any way putting you in that category. We also have the crazy wife of a physician who, when in a manic state, will call the switchboard no fewer than 50 times a day to chat. When the staff won't chat to her satisfaction, she threatens to report us to administration. Even our affiliated mental health facility (where she probably has her own suite)hangs up on her during these periods. Being the answering service is NOT EASY!

There. I feel better.

Anonymous said...

I have Ms. Morphine and Ms. Dilaudid to deal with, some days I want to give them ALL they ask for.

Doctor Answering Service said...

Doctor answering services to make sure their patients know that they are there for them. These types of services give a special touch. Although most patients know that they are not talking with someone who can give you doctor treatment, they want to know that their concerns are heard.

Call Center said...

Quite a funny incident. Like reading your post.

BPO said...

Your story is really very humorous . Its funny too.
Liked reading your post.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha. And then you get patients who are only on Tramadol and are having a tough time getting that because of the Mr. Soma and Ms. Fentanyl Patch's of the world.

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