Saturday, April 08, 2006

Maria Gonzales

Throughout this entire OB rotation, it's been extremely hard for me to keep track of the patients on our service. After thinking it through, I realized why: it's because all our patients are the same.

Whereas in other clerkships and specialties you can keep track of patients based on their sex, age, or varying medical problems, that is close to impossible on this rotation. First, you can't go by sex because ... duh ... they're all women. You can't differentiate based on race because they're all Hispanic, which is the norm for this hospital (on a related note, because of this fact, the variety of possible names is drastically reduced since their first name is either Rosa, Maria, or Juanita, and their last name is either Francisco, Lopez, or Gonzales; pick one of those first names, then pick one of those last names; I'll guarantee you there is a patient on our service with that name).

(On yet another related note, most of them speak little to no English. Not a word of English. Actually, the only word I believe they know is "English", so that upon hearing us ask "do you speak English?" they hone in on that word and know to respond "no." What the hell?)

Next, age can't be used because all our these pregnant women are in their 20's, which, by the way, is quite disturbing, because all these 20-somethings are presenting for their 3rd, 4th, or 5th pregancy, indicating that their first baby was in their teens. Again, what the hell ... but that's another story.

And it was then I realized why, for the first time in third year, the residents on my team always referred to patients by their room number. (e.g. "16 needs to be examined" or "44 is in active labor"). It's not a practice they would be proud of, especially thinking back to their idealistic pre-med days when they had illusions about how they would practice medicine, but one that's necessary given how all our patients are pregnant-for-the-4th-time Maria Gonzales.

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