An obstetrician/ gynecologist at our hospital had a habit of falling back to sleep when she was called for a delivery or surgery. The nurses would call to let her know that her patient was ready or that one of her pregnant patients was just admitted and she needed to come in and see the patient. The problem actually arose when she was called again to remind her that she was needed. She would get very upset if, after waiting a reasonable amount of time, a nurse would call her to remind her that she had a client waiting. She always made it seem as though it was the nurse’s fault that she had fallen back to sleep. She would often belittle and yell through the phone at the nurse who dared to remind her of her job.
I was making my rounds on the obstetrics unit one morning, when one of the nurses said to one of her co-workers, “Dr. Shawna isn’t here yet. I hate having to call her back and ask if she’s coming in. She’ll yell and scream and call me names like usual.”
I told her. “You need to be smarter than she is. Dial her number and ask “Is Louise there?” This was a time before caller I. D. “When she says ‘no’, apologize to her and tell her you must have dialed the wrong number.”
It worked like a charm. The doctor came scurrying onto the unit about fifteen minutes later; it was just long enough for her to take a quick shower, to get dressed, and to drive in.
The patient was treated, the nurses were saved from further abuse, and the doctor arrived in a pleasant mood. Case closed. There were happy nurses, a happy patient, and a happy doctor.