May 4, 2010

URGENT CARE-LESS: When the Doctor Wants to Wash Her Hands of Mommy

It was our last day of vacation when we rushed baby boy back to the Urgent Care doctor because he developed a rash while on antibiotics for his ear infection. I expected it NOT to be a big deal. YES, rashes and antibiotics can mean an allergic reaction to the medicine, which can be serious. The thing is, he developed the rash after being in the sun and it went away within 15 minutes of appearing—long enough for us to have noticed it, called the doc, and driven down the road to the Urgent care for what turned into a roller coaster ride of the unexpected.

By the time the doctor walked into the room, the rash was completely gone. Phew! It must have been the sun after-all. Well, the Urgent care Doctor had other thoughts:

The doctor walks in the room pressing her clipboard to her chest with crossed arms. She glares at me, with those same squinting, beady eyes that whipped me the day before when she arrogantly accused me of causing my son’s ear infection because I had stopped breastfeeding him at 10 months. Without even looking at our baby to see that the rash we called about was now gone, she declares in the most unsympathetic voice, “Your baby has a febrile illness and you need to take him to the ER!”

Febrile illness! What the heck is that! It sounded like some spinal disease that was life threatening. My heart contracted to the point of bursting in my chest.

“What is a febrile illness?” I manage to ask, taking a deep gasp of thick stale office air.

“A febrile illness is a fever!” She explains, rolling her eyes as though I am the most ignorant person on the planet.

“What!” I think. Why are you trying to throw a fancy medical term at me? Just say fever. Okay, I can breathe again. It is only a fever!

“SO, because your child has a febrile illness, you need to take him to the ER NOW” and she spins around ready to leave the room, her hair nearly slapping me in the face.

“Wait. I am confused. I was here yesterday, you diagnosed baby with an ear infection. He had a fever yesterday. We are here today because he had a rash, which went away 15 minutes after appearing. His fever is better today. So, why are you telling me to go to the ER?”

“You need the ER because of the febrile illness! He will need chest x-rays, blood cultures, urine screening. I cannot offer that here in urgent care.”

Then in her annoyance, she asks me, “Why don’t you want to take your sick child to the ER, Mommy!”

Why don’t I want to take my child to the ER! Surely this woman knows NOTHING about me. She hasn’t read this or this and she surely doesn’t know about my horror story of the night I had to spend in the ER last year when I had an emergency appendectomy—I’ll have to share more on that in a future post. Let’s just say they put me next to diarrhea man, with only a shower curtain separating our “rooms,” and yes, I had my infant with me because I was nursing him and had no stored breast milk, and yes, after the nurse goes in between both of our “rooms” they decide to quarantine him! AFTER coming into my room where I have a newborn infant with me. And NO there was NOT even a full wall of curtain separating us. I heard every groan he made, yes, you could smell everything, and all I could think was please let this virus NOT be airborne! Okay, breathe again. Let me compose myself here to continue …

So I reply to her politely but firmly: “I’m just not understanding what has changed since yesterday. You diagnosed him with an ear infection, which is why he had a fever. He’s on an antibiotic that was working fine. We only brought him in here because of the rash, but the rash went away, so it looks like it’s not a rash from the antibiotic because it left so suddenly. Also, unless it is absolutely necessary I like to avoid the ER because I don’t want to expose my child to more germs.”

“It is MY LEGAL, Professional, medical opinion, that you go to the ER,” she fires!

“But can you help me understand? I like to look at this as a point of learning because I also have a 2YO at home. So, they have fevers occasionally, as all children do. What warrants this situation, this fever, that I should take him to the ER?”

Well, that was the end of her explaining. Every other question that I asked was answered with the following broken record recording:

“It is MY LEGAL, Professional, medical opinion, that you go to the ER.”
“It is MY LEGAL, Professional, medical opinion, that you go to the ER.”
“It is MY LEGAL, Professional, medical opinion, that you go to the ER.”

Then, at the end of our discussion, she changes her mind and says that instead of going to the ER she will call the nearest pediatrician for us to bring baby to that office instead.

Translation: I’m having second guesses on my diagnosis. So go to the ER or at least somewhere else so we can ensure nothing goes wrong and you don’t sue me. No, I don’t know what I’m talking about. But if you continue to ask more questions I will continue to use the term “febrile illness” as though it is tuberculosis or cancer and will continue to make you feel like a lazy mother who just wants to avoid the inconvenience of taking her sick baby to the ER while on her vacation.

So what happens? Everything in me is telling me that for whatever reason she has decided to freak out on me and doesn’t want to be held responsible if she made a mistake somewhere and is telling me to go elsewhere so she can wash her hands of the situation. My motherly instinct says baby is completely fine. The rash went away, just go home: his fever is even gone now, rash is gone, he’s doing well on antibiotics, so go home and enjoy the last day of your beach vacation. BUT, the mind and emotions don’t always come into alignment. In my emotions I’m in complete turmoil. I mean a doctor is telling me to go to the ER, shouldn’t I listen? Surely I don’t know better than a doctor!

So, we end up driving 30 minutes away into the next town to the nearest pediatrician office that the Urgent care doctor set up for us to meet with. What does the pediatrician say?

He says baby boy is FINE! The ear infection is a nasty one, but just keep on with the antibiotics because it is helping. NO, pediatrician says, the rash was NOT a reaction to the antibiotics because if it were it would have lasted longer. It wouldn’t have disappeared within 15 minutes, especially because the antibiotic baby is on is one that stays in one’s system for days. So if he were really having an allergic reaction it would still be going on. Well, what about the urine cultures or chest x-rays? Pediatrician says NOT necessary. Because baby is on antibiotics even if they did a urine or blood culture it would come up negative because he’s on antibiotics, so there wouldn’t be any bacteria.

So as it turns out, the best way to freak out your urgent care doctor is to bring your baby back the day after she prescribed an antibiotic to treat baby’s ear infection and tell her your baby has a rash. But, now, be forewarned, because the doctor will reciprocate the favor, freaking out Mommy by demanding that you take baby to the ER to get treated for blood tests, urine cultures, and chest x-rays. Well, that is if you have the doctor we saw.

What’s your urgent care horror story? What would you have done?

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Posted by Laura


Cleo said...

Sounds like "horrible bedside manner" meets "that common God mentality" in that Dr. your precious baby got stuck in seeing at Urgent Care!
Am so sorry you, the hubs and baby boy had to go through this. :(
i don't care how much training a Dr. has; after having three children, have come to realize NOTHING replaces "Mommy's instinct"!

Law Momma said...

This makes me want to find that doctor, slap her with a pickle, and then tell her it's my LEGAL opinion that she find a new career... perhaps one where she has limited interaction with the public.

Kim said...

NICE. Urgent Care's always give me the 'icks' for just this reason. They've never bothered my kids, but then I stopped going to them after I went for a migraine, told them I was allergic to a med, then they GAVE me THAT MED! GAH! I don't know what we'll do if we have a problem on a vacay!

Kate Pantier @ Mommy Monologues said...

Am I allowed to cuss on here?! Cause I really want to call her a "Super-B"...I would have been so peeved! I think you handled yourself perfectly!

Melodramommy said...

hahaha! Thanks all for the support. It's nice to know I'm not completely overreacting in being outraged at the doc's response.

kim, yay, another mommy who despises urgent cares. I'm not alone.

Law Mommy, you crack me up! Nice to know I have Law mommy on my side. Very empowering. Especially knowing you have a pickle and know how to use it! Love it!

Krissy @ Artsy Mom said...

That just proves that mother's intuition is powerful and usually right. :) Especially with medical reasons. It's proven to be right with me numerous times and I thank that maternal instinct. I think that doctor you saw should shove it. She just didn't want to deal with the situation and used her "LEGAL" advice to get you to an ER and out of her hands. That woman shouldn't even be handeling children and parents who are worried about their children if she is going to act that way. Urggghhh. That gets me so mad that she would act that way!! As if you don't want to take your son to the ER for some other reason... I would have smacked her!

I hope he feels better. My oldest ALWAYS used to get ear infections.

Elle D said...

Hello mate nice bloog