Word to the wise: Never treat without an office visit. “An ambush can happen almost anywhere. I’ve been ambushed at the gas station, at the local coffee house, and outside the supermarket while trying to get two fussy daughters into the car. I’ve even been ambushed in the parking lot of my clinic by a patient who had an appointment to see me 20 minutes later.

The common factor among all ambushes is that the doctor’s concentration regarding a patient’s care is overshadowed by something else. It is the perfect setup for bad decisions, since the human brain can only give its full attention to one matter at a time. Instead of concentrating solely on Mandy’s daughter, I was focusing on whether or not I should extricate Mrs. Hughes from the hospital setting.

I glance at my watch out of the corner of my eye. Do I argue? Or just take the path of least resistance and say Yes? I choose the latter and agree to call in a prescription. She tells me which pharmacy she uses and thanks me profusely.

As Mandy leaves, I think to myself that Brooklyn just received some rotten, ambush-related medical care. I had not seen the patient. I had not reviewed her chart. And I did not specifically recall ‘last time.’ I was guided by my desire to swiftly make both the daughter and mother feel better; unfortunately, I did not succeed on either count.”

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