Question: Where's me phone?
Answer: Where you left it - at the doctors.
Last week in the UK we were in the midst of the Easter school holidays and for some unknown reason GPs’ with families want to spend some time with them. For some unknown reasons our patients wish to spend time with their families at the same time. As a result doctors with families are few on the ground while patients with alleged illnesses are crawling out of the ground in locust like hordes of unceasing wellness.
In amongst the ever increasing “it is an emergency I need to be seen today” 15 extras one of our acutely “ill” patients left their mobile phone. In the first 12 hours or less that it was with us this heavily damaged phone which had clearly seen better days recorded no less than a hundred missed calls mostly over night.
Doning our NHS flu PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) kit we have removed the item to a secure environmentally protected unit provided as part of the NHS flu Pandemic contingency plans for the treatment of key personnel (PCT Chief Execs) and contained the hazzard therein. We knew it would be safe there for there was an extra curtain provided as part of the extra PPE provided by those in charge in extremis.
Drawing lots one of us entered the secure unit to answer the phone in order to determine who its alleged owner is/was/might be at great personal risk given the state of the phone.
After answering several clearly concerned friends' or relatives' calls the conversations we had with them were along the lines of:
"Where’s me mate?"
"Are you Dave?"
"I need Dave I’ve got to get some gear, sorry mate he owes me someit,"
"I’m doing a job for him when’s me kit coming I did it . . ."
Surprisingly “Dave” with all of their very concerned friends and relatives asking repeatedly after him didn’t have any who were keen to give their friend’s name to us even when we explained why we wanted it.
Using all of our years in the medical profession we were by a simple process of elimination able to track down after three weeks of NCSI (Northernshire Crimo Scrotscene Investigation) able to trace who we thought the owner might be just before the battery ran out. We would have loved to have returned some of the calls we received but for some reason there was no credit on the phone.
Herein lies the dilemma for us here at ND Central:
1) Do we dispose of the offending item currently isolated from the world as a health hazard into a secure sharps box to safeguard humanity?
2) Do we hand the item over to the Police as lost properity in the hope that the local guardians of law and order will do their utmost to track down the phone’s rightful owner?
3) Do we contact the local Federales and say we have reason to believe that the phone is a major crime scene and so risk a breach of patient confidentiality as a result of being good citizens?
4) Do we waste valuable practice time and effort trying to trace the owner who could barely stand or walk when seen and who thought that in his one “had to be seen today” appointment they would get 3 other chemically challenged individuals seen for urgent prscriptions for stuff that had been spirited away by the marauding hordes of the invisible benzo and Z-drug fairies who because it is Spring and the mating season have been very busy lately?
You the jury have the case. What should the doctor concerned do?
Praise be to the Party for allowing general practices across the land to be lost property offices at no expense to their patients and the numerous gifts (usually mobile phones and car keys) that they leave on our desks on a regular basis. How much time should we spend informing our patients of their lost property?
Or should we as GPs be good citizens? Discuss.
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