I was talking with a specialist while I was scrolling through a CT scan so the images could be texted to him. It was chaotic, and I was having trouble shooting the video. I handed the phone to one of my partners to help, and the specialist said over speakerphone, “That EP doesn't know his ass from a tea kettle.” This encounter was just like one of the abnormal interactions Edwin Leap, MD, described in his March column, “Surviving the ED, the Land of Moral Anomalies.” (EMN. 2020;42:18; http://bit.ly/2wi4tbk.)
I wrote him the following edited-for-anonymity letter:
I'm the emergency physician who you said over speakerphone didn't know his ass from a tea kettle. Quite hostile, besides rude and unprofessional.
I'm not even sure what to make of this. Were you having a bad day? Is this your standard behavior? Do you treat patients or other physicians or even your family like this?
I don't routinely shoot cell phone videos. I can tell you I was having a bad day, and your comment made it worse. You've probably never been to my ED. It's a small crowded 12-bed department with curtains and patients lining the walls, noisy and chaotic with multiple transfers every day. I was doing the best I could!
It would do you good to learn more about patience and professionalism.
A few days later the physician who insulted me called and sincerely apologized. I think writing him was a positive act and he realized something. I believe the email will help him improve his conduct, so I feel good about writing him.
James M. Larson, MD