Friday, September 19, 2008

You're not funny.

I've written here before that I work in an In Vitro Fertilization lab. Due to the nature of the work, we are extremely careful about labeling everything correctly so that the eggs get fertilized with the correct sperm. We are also very careful that the embryos get put into the correct patient. There is tons of paperwork and every sample and piece of paperwork has at least two patient identifiers on it, usually name and Social Security number or name and birthday. In the lab we prefer to use Social Security numbers, but the nursing staff uses birthdays. We do this because we have patients who have the same name and we have to be very careful.

Today I was set up to do an egg retrieval. The nurses brought the patient into the room, and asked her to give me her name and birth date. She said (not her real name and birth date) "Jane Patient, August 4th, 1975."

I checked my paperwork. The name was correct, but the birth date on the pre-printed hospital sticker read

DOB: 01/15/75

I stopped for a second and reread the sticker, then looked through her chart and found that all of the stickers said that. This was a problem.

I said to the nurse "Could you come over here for a second?" She came over to look at the paperwork and I said to the patient "What did you say your birthday was again?"

The patient started to laugh. She said "I told you August 4th, 1975, but that's wrong. I was just seeing if you were paying attention. It's really January 15, 1975." She was very smug and happy with herself.

I told her "Okay, really now, you need to verify that your birthday is in fact January 15, 1975." She said yes it was, and I said "We really don't think that kind of thing is funny around here." and the nurse said something like "Yes, we really can't afford to joke around about things like that." The patient just shrugged, still smiling, and she was prepped for surgery.

Let me be perfectly clear. THIS IS NOT FUNNY. Not in any way, not even a little teeny bit. We live and die by double checking that things match up. If they don't match up, we have a problem. Possibly a big one. And for a patient to lie just to test us? NOT FUNNY. If you don't trust us then either go someplace else or don't have IVF.

One time I was doing an embryo transfer and the patient was brought in to the operating room with her husband. I brought my paperwork over for her to sign, and asked her to verify that her name was written at the top of the page. She said "Yes." The husband looked at her and said "No, your name is Lisa!"

I looked at him or horror, and his wife said "Ned, stop fooling around!" and I said "Yes, Ned, don't fool around like that. We don't really think that's funny." He then made a couple of cracks about freaking out the embryologist, and I said "Well, you did, and for good reason!" I said it all in a lighthearted way, but I think he knew that I really was not amused. I know he was just trying to get a cheap laugh, but again, NOT FUNNY.

So leave your jokes at home, people. If I want laughs I'll watch South Park.


csantoni said...

They really need to respect your authoritai.

AnnL said...

Some things just aren't funny.

Katie said...

wow... that is so out of line! How could anyone think that saything things like that is funny at all. I am totally with you on this one... except for the South Park part (not a big fan of it myself :P)

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr