It was busy in the ED and all the nurses were tied up with patients.
An ambulance call came in and I was near the radio, so I took the call.
“Yeah, Metro General, be advised we’re bringing in a 97 year old female from the nursing home with a chief complaint of weakness for the past 6-7 days.”
The ED secretary cringed. “Why would a nursing home call an ambulance for a patient with weakness of all things – and for a whole week, yet?”
I have to admit that “weakness” isn’t my favorite chief complaint, either, but I have also found some wild pathology in little old ladies whose only symptom is feeling weak. So I don’t like the complaint, but I also have a healthy respect for the complaint.
“Be advised that this patient’s blood pressure is 130/70, her pulse is 80 and her respirations are 20. We have about a six minute ETA. Any questions?”
The ED secretary had turned back around, but was still shaking her head. So I acted like I was talking on the radio, but didn’t push the “talk” button.
I asked loudly “Metro 27, did you have this patient do any push ups?”
The secretary’s head snapped around and she stared at me with wide eyes. I winked at her and nodded.
Again, without pressing the talk button, I said loudly “If you didn’t have her do pushups in the nursing home and she’s on the stretcher, can you just have her do some sit-ups to assess her weakness for me? Let me know how many she can do.”
By this time, the secretary’s jaw had dropped. “You know that’s a recorded line, don’t you? You’re going to get in trouble!”
“Yeah, but it only records when you press the ‘talk’ button.”
Weakness just became my favorite complaint for the day.