Sometimes I tell patients, or parents of pediatric patients, “Everyone is entitled to a bad day.” If permitted, as far as I am concerned, that would also be their diagnosis. Having said that, the ICD-9 (used for medical billing and coding to describe disease, injury, symptoms, and conditions in healthcare) does have a billable diagnosis code that can be used for reimbursement for almost the same purpose; V65.5—Person with feared complaint in whom no diagnosis was made. This I cannot make up (http://www.icd9data.com/2012/Volume1/V01-V91/V60-V69/V65/V65.5.htm).
These are patients, or parents of pediatric patients, who rush to the Emergency Department or their primary care providers only to feel better once there. Almost as if the trip to seek medical attention itself was therapeutic for their medical complaints of, “I almost had a fever. I almost threw up. I almost lost my vision…etc.” or parents who said, “His temperature was so high he almost had a seizure.” Case in point, from many, an adult patient who came in by ambulance, after vomiting once at home, but prior to arriving felt better, and once in the Emergency Department he wanted to go home. Of course I had no problem with that except he wanted the ambulance “to give him a lift,” as he said, because the only person at home was his wife and she could not drive at night time and I said, “No.”
Unfortunately, as one can imagine, a number of those patient complain that nothing was them for them. And when unnecessary diagnostics, done only to satisfy demands, are unremarkable patients argue they are not going to pay the bill. The most frustrating of those complaints being that of parents verbalizing their children were tortured although the ordering of unnecessary diagnostics was at the parents’ demands after healthcare workers were not able to convince parents their child was “just fine”.
I too had one of those bad days, although I think I have more than my fair share of them. The most recent one was before going on a Locums assignment. That day, prior to my departure I had a number of projects around the house I wanted to finish before leaving as I was going to be gone for twenty days. Unfortunately, none of the projects were cooperating, making for a long day. Not to mention my travels later that night would include a three and a half hour flight between Phoenix, AZ and Rapid City, SD with a one hour layover in Denver, CO. Only to be followed by a two and a half hour drive to Pine Ridge, SD.
The cherry on top of that day came while loading onto the aircraft in Phoenix. As I handed over my ticket to the flight attendant he says to me, “You can only take on one personal item and one carry-on.” The luggage he spoke of has been the same personal item and carry-on I have used for at least the past decade, in the same manner, and this was the first time anyone described them as two carry-ons. “What?” I said. Of course the flight attendant repeated himself, “One personal item and one carry-on.”
“That is what I have,” I said, “One personal item,” grabbing the backpack attached to my chest, “and one carry-on,” turning around to show the flight attendant the backpack on my back. “Those two are the same,” he said, “two carry-ons.” “That doesn’t make any sense,” I said, “They are all carry-ons as you are carrying them on the plane.” I then tried to show the flight attendant that the smaller backpack was identical to the one pictured on their diagram and he said, “Yours is too big.” I could not believe what was happening. Frustrated I said, “Whatever. It’s not like I can argue with you.” When he returned with the tag he asked me which one I want to place under the aircraft. Really, I thought to myself. Why? Because the smaller backpack had always fit easily under the seat in front of me, at least for the past decade I been traveling with it, and the large one always fit in the overhead compartment. Yet that flight attendant saw them as the same. Not to toot my horn, but I have traveled a couple times before and without issues.
So I told him to tag the larger bag and I would keep the smaller one and he says to me, “At least I am not going to charge you for it.” “It’s not about the money,” I replied, “I simply prefer the convenience of getting off the aircraft and walking away without having to go to baggage claim.” Although I almost told him I would pay if I could keep the bag with me.
As I walked through the gate and up the ramp I turned around to ask the flight attendant if he wanted me to carry the bag to the bridge and he said no that he would carry it himself. I took him at his word, why not, that is his job. Sitting in the cabin I thought to myself, was I getting a taste of my own medicine? This time I was the customer but I was right and the flight attendant was wrong. But the title of the book is, The Customer is NEVER Right. Like, NEVER EVER! Yet here I was the customer and I was right or was I wrong. Maybe it is only complaining customer who are NEVER right. So do I complain to the airline? No. What is complaining about the flight attendant’s irrational thinking going to get me? I just need to get to South Dakota so that I can work the next day.
Once in Rapid City, no bags, and I have to work the next day and my change of clothes is in that bag that never made it. The next dilemma was, if and when my bag does show up, how do I get it back when the drive between the airport and the hotel I am staying at are two and a half hours in each direction? And I will be working twelve hour shifts with a thirty minute drive between the hotel and the hospital, not a lot of time left over for a five hour drive to get my bags. Now, do I complain that the bags are not present? Why? What is it going to get me? It was not the airline, I made it to South Dakota alive, and that is important. How about the flight attendant, who likely forgot to load my bag after I offered to carry it to the bridge? Maybe I can complain about him, but what is that going to get me?
So I go to orientation the next day in the same clothes I wore the night before. Not to mention my tooth brush, tooth paste, razor, and deodorant were in that bag. What is it they say about first impressions? Oh well, I am here to work and not to socialize.
After six hours of orientation and no word about my bags at the airport I drive forty-five minutes to find a Walmart. Because it was the only place I can get t-shirts, underwear, socks, a tooth brush, tooth paste, razors, and deodorant under the same roof that takes my credit card, because another mishap the day before I left the house was my debit card PIN was not working either.
Then within the same twenty-four hours of losing my baggage, as if not enough drama had taken place, on the way to Walmart I get a speeding ticket, 85mph in a 65mph zone, in a rental car. Oh well, I guess. Haven been fined for speeding so many times one would think I am a subject matter expert of how to talk myself out of tickets. However, because I never chit chat with police when pulled over I have never tried to talk myself out of a ticket. But, since I was having a bad day I thought sharing the sad story with the officer may keep me from getting a ticket. “Where are you headed to,” the officer asked, a question that annoys me and what comes to mind always is, “None of your business.” However, what I said instead, with the best dramatized puppy eyes I could fake was, “I am headed to Walmart to buy some clothes after losing my luggage.” Sadly, my knitted browed puppy eyes were not convincing enough, I guess, as I got a ticket. Talk about; everyone is entitled to a bad day.
Four days later, my bag appeared. Do I complain now? Some might claim it was poor service but I would disagree, although Lee said in a previous blog, “A service is something I could do myself.” Like carry my own bag. However, that was not an issue with me. What was an issue with me was someone not doing their job because all the flight attendant had to do, after asking me to leave my bag behind, was to make sure the bag got on the aircraft. Because although I obviously I tried to carry my own bag, it was something I was kept from doing. Nonetheless, why complain now that I have my things. And as I say, “Everyone is entitled to a bad day.” It would have been worse had the plane crashed, but it didn’t, and more important, I was alive. After all that, the most ironic was the airline’s tag on the bag clearly read RUSH, yet it took four days before I was reunited with my belongings.