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    ‘What is it with these people?’

    Three memorable patient interactions provide lessons about managing odd encounters

    When you think all is well with the world—when there’s not a ripple on the pond and the elevator music is playing in the background—what you really have done is jinx the rest of the day so at any moment the wheels will fall off the bus!

    I was having a peaceful afternoon and actually getting caught up on e-mails when my phone rang.

    The lead technician started: “Well, I am going to tattle on myself before this patient calls you and actually complains.”

    This is never a good beginning to a conversation. I had flashes that the technician dropped a bottle of yellow dye onto the patient’s white shirt, or better yet, while they were pulling the phoropter into position, it loosened and fell off the arm, skinning the patient’s nose and landing in his or her lap!

    She continued: “I just had a patient point out to me that the letters on the chart were offensive to him. The letters were GDFUA.”

    The technician and I had a good laugh, and then I ended the call. Then, the phone rang again—it was the patient.
    He was irate regarding the chart the technician asked him to read and wanted to know what kind of a company we were running. I tried to ask what in particular offended him when I was accused of being culturally insensitive. He hung up as he threatened to review us on Angie’s List!

    I spent the next half hour looking online for any references of GDFUA—all I found was “Generic Drug Fee User Amendments.”

    Driving home, I began to think of the instances when life entered the clinic and changed the course of the day in ways I never imagined could have happened.

    After being in the field for 35 years, I still wonder, “What is it with these people?”

    Here are a few other examples of what I learned from those instances.

    Things are not always as they seem

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