I am amazed at people who sit in the ED waiting room for hours with some complaint that would not seem to justify the inconvenience. Sometimes, they honestly do not know whether or not their condition is serious but other times, I get the feeling patients stick around just because they are not quitters. They come, they register, they wait.
On one such occasion, I went to see a man in his early twenties with a complaint of vomiting three times after eating fish. The nurse’s note said he had no medical history and the symptoms were now all gone. I wondered what I would learn about why he had chosen to wait over six hours to be seen.
He told me he was a temporary worker at Google, which provides free food for all its employees. He said it was his impression the food provided the temps was of inferior quality to that provided to the regular Google employees. Once, in the past, he had vomited after eating the fish at work. Today, he hesitated before taking the fish but decided to take the chance. Soon thereafter, he vomited and headed straight to the ED. He said no one else who ate the fish was ill. After talking to him, it was still unclear as to why he chose to wait so long to be seen since all of his symptoms were now gone.
I gave him my usual explanation about vomiting and/or diarrhea and I reassured him there was nothing for him to worry about since he had no more symptoms.
He seemed unhappy with my explanation so I asked some more questions. I then learned he had actually complained to Google in the past about getting sick from eating the fish. Google told him they would do a survey to see if there really was a problem with the food. This did not satisfy him at all.
The reason he was unhappy with my approach to his vomiting was that he wanted something he could use to “go after Google.” I am sure my disgust must have been visible, though I kept myself from telling him what I thought of his intentions. I told him I was unable to help and excused him.
Brother. Don’t people have better things to do?