You know how baseball players use those intricate signals to communicate with their coach while on the field? I think my patients and I need to work out something similar, for those Urgent Care visits when the patient needs a quick way to convey the “real” reason for their visit. It would save me so much time!
Signal: Patient coughs, winks, coughs again.
Meaning: ”I’m already getting better from my cold, I just came in for a work excuse note for yesterday and I might as well be off today too, right?”
Signal: Patient uses both hands to shake my one hand as I enter the room.
Meaning: “I’d rather not use antibiotics, if you don’t think it’s necessary, so don’t worry about trying to convince me this is just a cold.”
Signal: Patient (male) tosses cell-phone from hand to hand throughout the visit and speaks with gritted teeth.
Meaning: ”I feel totally fine now, I just came in because my wife made me, may I please be excused?”
Signal: Patient (teenaged girl) does not avoid eye contact while denying any changes in her menstruation before her abdominal symptoms began.
Meaning: “Please get my mom out of the room, I think I’m pregnant but I don’t want her to know!”
Signal: Patient leaves one earbud in place and never turns off their iPod during the visit.
Meaning: “Regardless of what you say, I’m gonna ask for Vicodin as you’re about to walk out of the room.”
EDIT: Since posting this, my readers and I have invented a few other Medical Gang Signs.