Maybe it’s a generational thing. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Until I went to medical school I can’t remember ever being taken to the E.D. It’s not that I lived the perfect childhood where I never got sick or injured. Come on, all I have to say is “Mexican birthday party” and you can conjure up your own images of swinging sticks, falling candy and what happens when said stick comes into contact with your forehead. No CAT scans, no x-rays, just a bag of ice and lots of birthday photos with a Band-Aid across my brow. Maybe that’s why I always wore bangs as a kid.
But I digress. When I did go to the doctor’s, there was no cajoling, no “come on, Honey, do it for Mommy”, no bribing. If you didn’t cry while getting your shot you got to pick from the lollipops sitting in the basket at the front reception desk. I liked cherry, and it was the only time I was really allowed to have candy, so the incentive was there. Which makes me almost appalled at some of the lengths some parents are willing to go through to get their child to do something in the E.D.
Take for example the parent that was trying to “encourage” their child to allow me to place sutures on their facial laceration. When the child broke my sterile field for the second time I left the room. When I came back the bidding was at $120, and the child was negotiating for cold hard cash versus credit towards a particular video game they were interested in. The child was 6. Money aside, we ended up putting steris because the child would not allow anything near their skin despite the obvious blanching from the LET cream that had been applied over an hour before.
Now I can understand the occasional promise of a Happy Meal for the suffering the child has to endure for their ear exam because they’re “pulling at their ears and must have an infection.” Maybe I can understand a trip to the zoo or to the water park for the horror of having to endure a plain film which shows their constipation, again. But a new video game, box of Legos, cell phone, or pair of jeans as a consolation prize for being brought to the E.D. for something their pediatrician or family doctor might have been able to diagnose in a two minute phone conversation? Ok, yes, I understand the office is busy and sending the patient to the E.D. is a way to make sure nothing is emergently wrong with the patient, but seriously?
Broken arm, broken leg, sure, promise your kid a new video game because they’re going to be wearing a cast for several weeks and will need something to distract them. But a video game for letting me swab the back of their throats because “they have to have strep because I got strep all the time as a kid” well then I’m going to need some bigger lollipops.