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CHICAGO, IL – In an effort to standardize inconsistencies that have confused health care workers for years, the first-ever Convention on Medical Numbering Conventions convened in Chicago last week. Convention organizers were thrilled to report over 5,000 “numerically uptight” professionals from all health care disciplines attended to discuss a litany of controversial topics.

The convention got off to a rocky start, however, when attendees arriving at the convention center became upset at the welcome sign which read, “First Annual Convention on Medical Numbering Conventions.” Numerous attendees pointed out that it’s impossible for something to be an “annual” event when it has happened only once. Staff members quickly took down the sign and coaxed the visibly-agitated attendees into the convention hall.

One of the most anticipated sessions, entitled, “It’s Post-Op Day 0…but also Hospital Day 1?”, was a planned debate between hospitalists and surgeons to determine once-and-for-all how to standardize the numbering of hospital and post-operative dates. Unfortunately, the debate had to be cancelled as the hospitalists and surgeons were told the session was scheduled on “conference day 2”, leading each group to arrive on different days.

Another high-profile session was entitled, “Hot Topic: How Many Days of Fever is This?” Attendees were presented numerous case studies and asked to vote on how many days they would report the patient had fever. For example, “A child develops a fever at 10pm and arrives in the Emergency Department with a fever at 5am (the next calendar day). Your note would read, ‘Patient has had fever for ____.’” During the live vote, nearly 50% of attendees reported “Patient has had fever for two days.” When the voting results were flashed on the screen, Cleveland Clinic Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist, Dr. Laura Wilson, jumped up and began screaming, “Two days?! Two DAYS?!! It’s only been 7 damn hours! How the hell do you expect me to know when to start broad-spectrum antibiotics, IVIg, and throw the kitchen sink at the kid?!”

The most emotional session, however, was the Keynote Address by Timothy Huffington entitled, “I Ain’t No (Patient) Zero”. Mr. Huffington – the “index case” in a 2015 hepatitis outbreak – described the mental anguish of being labeled the so-called, “Patient Zero.” “Sure, my liver shut down, I began bleeding from every orifice, and needed a liver transplant necessitating immunosuppressants for the rest of my life,” Mr. Huffington said while choking back tears. “But, dammit, the worst part of the whole experience was being the FIRST patient with hepatitis and somehow being called, ‘Patient ZERO.’ I guess that means the dude I infected was Patient ONE?!”

It’s unclear if the conference netted any real gains or what plans exist for future numbering convention conventions. At press time, conference organizers were unavailable for final comment as they were breaking up an altercation of pediatricians who were arguing at what age it’s no longer appropriate to report a child’s age in months.

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  • Doc Around the CLock

    Doc Around the Clock is a Pediatric Emergency Medicine physician, ER Medical Director, and proud owner of a Minivan. He used to record Simpsons episodes on VHS, had a subscription to Mad magazine, and still stays up to watch Saturday Night Live (though falls asleep after Weekend Update)…so, yeah, you can expect some fresh, cutting-edge medical satire. When he’s not in the ER trying to prevent safety events, in a meeting about a safety event, or writing an email about a safety event, you can find and follow Doc Around the Clock on Twitter @ERDoc4Kids.

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