ATLANTA, GA – The CDC released chilling statistics demonstrating an epidemic of doctor deaths while on endless phone holds. “This is a disturbing trend,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Over 62% of our doctors are dying from dehydration and starvation while waiting for an actual human representative of an insurance company to answer on the other line.”
Local hospitalist Dr. Sri-Sheshadariprativadibayankaram, who was recently rescued after a harrowing 78-hour phone hold, commented, “It was absolute torture. I mean, I had to listen to haunting hold music that sounded like it came from a porn soundtrack on repeat the whole time. I nearly lost my mind. This whole ordeal was to justify why my intubated patient on pressors in the ICU met inpatient, rather than observation, criteria.”
In 1954, the time doctors spent on phone hold daily was only 1 hour and 15 minutes. Today, doctors must allot well over 5 hours per day on average for phone holds, often times in one long stretch.
Dr. Sri-Sheshadariprativadibayankaram, hooked up to IV fluids and artificial nutrition in his hospital bed, whispered, “After a while, it became a battle of attrition and I wasn’t willing to give up on the call since I had already sunk almost 2 hours on hold. Around day 2, I inserted a Foley catheter into my own bladder and started to develop sacral skin breakdown requiring wound care.”
Dr. Sri-Sheshadariprativadibayankaram continued: “I spent a lot of the hold time with my cell phone pressed against my opposite ear returning pages by angry patients and families asking why their doctor was behind schedule. At one point while I was on hold with the insurance company on the ground line, I was also on hold with a pharmacy on my cell phone.”
CDC Director Tom Frieden added: “This is a common indignity to which our nation’s physicians are subjected far too often: the so-called ‘Double Hold’ with two simultaneous phone holds suffocating the tattered remnants of the doctor’s will to live. This is why we’re commissioning a task force to monitor doctor phone hold periods in real time, and spring into action if the hold continues into its 48th hour… before it’s too late.”
Dr. Sri-Sheshadariprativadibayankaram, however, offered his grim assessment of the doctor’s plight. “The truth is, we’re not just dying while on phone holds. A colleague of mine recently died from aspiration after he choked while answering his 51st page received just during his first meal in 36 hours. At least he died doing what he loved… Wait a minute. Never mind.”