Emergency physicians are glorified secretaries with medical degrees


We had a pretty busy shop when I was in residency. So busy, in fact, that we had three secretaries working simultaneously — one for paging, one for order entry, and one for admissions. I haven’t been back there in a long time, but I hope the secretarial staff has grown commensurately with the volume and acuity of the ED. But from what I’ve seen around the country in my locums work and heard from others on various forums, lots of EDs don’t have a secretary at all.

I’ve puzzled over this. Perched at my desk trying to decide what to do with my patients, doing my best to keep them from leaving with dangerous illnesses or being discharged into eternity, I have dealt with lots of paper. I filled out referral forms and fax cover sheets. I entered orders, and re-entered orders. And sometimes did it again when I found out that the first two were for things listed in the system that we didn’t have. I have tried to contact a social worker and a radiologist for clarification. I have called the lab to find out why my hemoglobin was taking so long.

For the full article, please visit Emergency Medicine News.

Edwin Leap is an emergency physician who blogs at edwinleap.com and is the author of the Practice Test and Life in Emergistan.  This article originally appeared in Emergency Medicine News.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com


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