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1. I was at a party, and one of my friends gave me a little white tablet. I’d had a few drinks and I was feeling good, and I took it, even though I didn’t know what it was. It made me feel, like, really weird. I could see and hear really strange things, and it scared me. I still don’t feel normal today, and I’m very worried.
2. It’s not due until next month, but when I was washing up this morning there
was a little blood. It worried me. Then I got these pains.
3. I was working high up on a ladder. My foot slipped and I fell. I hit my head but there’s no blood and I don’t feel too bad.
4. I was walking by the river, and I think I stepped on it and it bit me. I don’t know what type it was but it was long and silver with a black head.
5. I was looking in the mirror and I saw this big spot on my face. I checked it on the Internet and I’m sure I’ve got cancer. Do you think I’m going to die?
N = nurse, P = patient.
N Mustapha, isn’t it?
P Yes, that’s right.
N So, what happened to you?
P I was working on a ladder. It was raining and I slipped and fell.
N Did you hit your head?
P Yes. I saw stars and felt sick at first. But now it’s OK.
N I see. You may have concussion.
First, I’ll take down your details and fill in this form. So, what’s your surname?
P It’s Hussein.
N Can you spell that for me?
N What’s your occupation?
P I’m a painter.
N Right. What’s your date of birth?
P First of the ninth, eighty-two.
N One, nine, eighty-two… and where were you born?
P Karachi, Pakistan.
N What’s your marital status?
N Are you married?
P No, I’m single.
N And do you have a contact telephone number for your next of kin?
P 07709-401229 – it’s my brother, Yusuf.
N Do you smoke?
N How many do you smoke a day?
P Twenty a day.
N Uh huh. Do you drink?
N Right. Are you allergic to anything?
N Now, family history. Do any of your close family suffer from any of the following – mental illness?
P My mother’s parents are both diabetic.
N Maternal grandparents… diabetes. Tuberculosis?
I meet people when they are frightened, angry, or drunk, so it's important to be diplomatic and strong. I often need to reassure people, so it's important to be calm.
My normal work is to greet and assist patients when they arrive, make appointments for patients, record patients' information, and organize and file patient records. I also keep the accounts. You need to be very organized to do this job.
Of course, I have to operate a computer. a fax machine, and other office equipment. but I also have to know first aid, and understand medical terminology and abbreviations. My biggest problems are with the handwriting of medical staff. It wastes a lot of time when I don't understand reports and forms because of handwriting or abbreviations.
I believe that without me and the other receptionists the whole hospital would come to a stop.
The habit starts when they are medical students and gets worse as time passes.
Computer analysis shows that generally, medical staff are careful with numbers. However, they tend to form letters of the alphabet badley. When drug names look very similar, bad handwriting can mean patients get the wrong medicine. A young girl nearly died when she was given Methimazole instead of Metolazone (one is for high blood pressure and the other is for thyroid problems). And in 1999, an American cardiologist, Ramachandra Kolluru, wrote a prescription so badly that the pharmacist gave a patient the wrong medicine. this time the patient did die and a court fined the doctor 225,000 US dollars.
Recently, researchers studied 50 patient progress notes. They found that they, could not read 16% of the words. The misunderstandings that this causes can mean that a patient is given the wrong blood, or that a surgeon amputates the wrong limb. Fatal errors year hundreds of thousands of mistakes are made in hospitals around the world, and a lot of them are because of bad handwriting or abbreviations which nobody understands. Bad handwriting also causes delays, which are expensive and wasteful.
There are many techonological solutions for the problem, and through digital technology can’t improve handwriting, it can improve the situation. At London’s Charing Cross Hospital, for example, patients wear bar codes (the same as in a supermarket) on their wrists or ankles. Staff use the bar codes along with hand-held computers to get accurate, clear, and easy-to-read information.