Administration and Leadership, Training

OMG, OMD!: Sweet-talkin’ your medical director & being a smart patient

Issue 3 and Volume 34.

Dear Sirenhead,
Our medical director is a great guy, but over the past year or so, his focus on our operation seems to have dropped to the wayside. We used to be the system in the state that led the way with new programs, equipment and education, but now he seems interested only in things that get him published. Any ideas?
Lost My Medical Director

Dear Lost My Medical Director,„
An active medical director is a godsend. Heck, one that actually remembers your name and returns your phone calls is a blessing. In most places, the only time you see your OMD (operational medical director) is when you screw up or need a skills sign-off every two years. It sounds like yours is one of the good guys. I recommend three things: Buy him lunch, rake his yard and walk his puppy. Sound like nonsense? Listen up.

Buy him lunch:Your OMD sounds approachable, so meet him for lunch and ask how things are going. Spend most of the time listening. Is he distracted by things at home or the office? Tell him what you see; he may not even be aware. Maybe he_s truly interested in publishing studies in order to help advance the EMS science base and doesn_t realize he_s drifted from other areas.„

Rake his yard:Find out what you can do to help your medical director. Do something as simple as not whining about stupid protocols every time you see him. How about helping him do the legwork to change the protocol? If your doc has been putting up with you and your buddies for a while, cut him some slack. Maybe even stop by his house and rake his yard.

Walk his puppy:Nothing seems to liven up a house like a puppy. Running under your feet, jumping on the couch, peein_ … NO,„not on the carpet! If your OMD has found a new interest, it doesn_t mean he doesn_t love youƒhe_s just got a new puppy. Maybe there_s room in your heart to learn to love the little fella, too. If you_re able to get on board with one of his pet projects, you_ll not only rebuild rapport, you_ll eventually have his ear for your own ideas.

Dear Sirenhead,
I recently had the misfortune of being struck while riding my motorcycle on the highway. I was examined by a student, but the supposed preceptor wasn_t paying attention, which resulted in me teaching the student how to check me over. He completely bypassed my abdomen and pelvis, and he didn_t check PMS in my lower extremities. Neither of them used any padding to help secure me to the backboard, they ignored my vehement complaint about lower back pain when they tried to straighten my legs, and they had me so loose on the board I was holding on to the side rails (with what I found out later was a broken wrist). Even though my bike was totaled and I had been thrown about 53 feet, I arrived at the ED fully clothed. I was also armed at the time, and the holster on my right hip was worn down to the firearm, and I did complain of severe pain in my right hip.

Thankfully, I didn_t have any spinal instability. It_ll still be months before I_m back on the street, but with God_s grace, I_ll return to a job I really enjoy.„
Recently Transported

Dear Recently Transported,„
Sorry about the crash. Sounds like you_re doing OK and realize it could have been a lot worse. As for the crew that worked you over … uh, I mean, worked on you … they should be glad your credentials don_t end in JD, NREMT-P. Did a pitiful assessment, failed to properly package, increased your pain, didn_t secure the gun. Well, at least they didn_t drop you or wreck the box.„

This experience presents two great opportunities: a chance to improve yourself and a chance to help that lousy EMS crew.

Some years ago, a fellow medic friend was struck while riding his bicycle. He felt tingling in his hands and terrible neck pain. He told me he was terrified the EMS crew might treat him like he treated some of his patients. He ended up with C-5/6 transverse process fractures. All healed up with no problems, but it certainly changed his life. He was always a good medic, but he became a„great medic and a caring person. Nothing like a little fear to realign your priorities.„

As for the EMS crew you encountered, it seems you_ve got a couple of options. You could send a letter to an experienced, wise, thoughtful, good-looking (did I mention humble?) EMS guru and get him to wave his finger at everyone to do a good job. You could take no formal action and tell anyone who_ll listen about your experience. Or you could take the road less traveled and take action.

Although I love the first option, the third option is the best.„But, Sirenhead, I_m scared I might hurt their feelings. It all depends on your delivery. Treat them with the respect and professionalism you_d want to receive. Don_t whine. If you_re not comfortable doing this one on one, consider a case review for a group. “Hi, I_m your patient, and here_s what happened to me.” Work with the EMS crew_s officer to make sure they_re in the audience.„JEMS

Tell Someone Who Cares
Got a question or complaint? Let Sirenhead hear all about it. He_ll answer you with 124 dB of traffic-stopping noise. E-mail„[email protected], and then brace yourself!