Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hidden Gems

One of the great challenges of being a GP locum is finding things in the consulting room. You can tell a lot about the owner of the room just by what you can find, or more specifically can’t find

For instance if you decide to be a good little locum and decide to do some of your own phlebotomy and cant find any equipment with which to perform the task, then it doesn’t need Sherlock Holmes to deduce that not much phlebotomy normally goes on in that room

Of course there’s the family photos; I would have thought it was bad enough being married without having to look at pictures of the wife/husband whilst at work as well; but then as a divorced cynic maybe I am too clichéd in my opinions

Neatly arranged, and labelled ring box files with appraisals listed by year always intrigue me. I couldn’t usually fill my wallet with the paperwork for my appraisal, far less a box file. I secretly like to think that these contain bottles of vodka, but I feel its an invasion of privacy to look, which if course it is, but more importantly I am not sure I could face the disappointment that they were in fact full of attendance certificates and the like

Out of date drugs are not unusual, and large stashes of MST are not as unusual as they perhaps should be. They are usually labelled with a patients name and date back from 1974; presumably taken from the patient’s home with the good intention of disposing of them correctly, but instead shoved in the back of a cupboard and long since forgotten. I am quite sure the practice CD register didn’t list these

One of my personal favourites was when in my (then) appraisers practice; I had to go off in search of a peak flow meter and mouthpiece. I discovered, much to my amusement that all of the meters in the practice were old style non EU PEFR meters which had been phased out 6 years previously. This included the peak flow meter in the asthma nurses room.

Second to that was a practice where every surface in the consulting room was piled high with unopened medical magazines that dated back 10 years; under the desk, on top of the desk, on top of the filing cabinet, in every cupboard and even the sink draining board was weighed down. It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that the doctor I was covering was off long term sick.

I don’t go looking out of curiousness or nosiness, I go looking out of clinical need, on the seemingly naïve assumption that the cupboards will contain the urine/blood/faeces/sputum and other bodily fluid/part receptacles I seek. . When I was a partner I shared my room with locums and other visiting doctors and midwives. I, admittedly, had some personal touches, which didn’t include a picture of my wife (now ex), but did include a picture of my dog just to remind me there was someone who would be pleased to see me when I got home. It was a clinical area first and foremost; I kept the closet skeletons firmly under lock and key.

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