Post by Spencer Willette, OMS-II

We’ve all encountered our fair share of “frequent flyers” or patients who regularly present to the emergency department so often that we know them by name. It’s so easy to become callous and project negativity in these situations. At the 14th Annual CE Madness, Drew and Andy spoke with Dr. Rob Lowe, Dr. Eric Cortez, Rob Cloud, Zach Maxwell to discuss strategies to identify and overcome this hurdle. 

You’re busy working your shift, but during a certain EMS to ED exchange, you notice a disdainful demeanor of your nursing staff and EMS crew towards a patient. The EMS crew has sustained moral injury, through countless interactions with this patient within a 24 hour period who appears to be taking advantage of them. It occurs to you that this patient is a high utilizer of medical services and consequently even you become agitated. 

What can we do in these situations?

Recognize: The first step in any situation is to take a step back and recognize the attitudes of the team and yourself towards the patient. As humans we can become vulnerable to compassion fatigue where cognitive bias affects how we approach situations. However, as a leader, it is our duty to recognize this bias and not react similarly to those around us. You are in control of your mind, don’t let the patient impact your emotions. Lead by example. 

Avoid Complacency: Treat every patient like it’s the first time you’re meeting them. They may have something very serious going on this time. It’s very easy to discount a repeat patient, but it’s in those times when bad things happen. In our mind and approach, every time should be the first time. 

Preserve CompassionDespite repeat calls and visits, staying level-headed and approaching these patients with empathy can go a long way. We may not know everything that is happening in their life but clearly they need help. This is why we went into medicine, right? Are we providing all of the services and support to help the patient? Put yourself in their shoes – how would you feel if medical personnel rolled their eyes at you. Stay open minded and complete the proper assessment. All it takes is one positive person to impact the overall team atmosphere and ultimately the care provided. 


Listen in as the guys discuss these concepts in more depth. 

Episode 85 Empathy and Understanding


More About Our guests:

Rob Lowe, MD– A previous guest on the show (Episode 23 Doc on Board), he currently splits his time between Fire/EMS and working clinically in EM.

Eric Cortez, MD- A previous guest on the show (Rock Your Shift), he has a special in Prehospital care and is fellowship trained. 

Rob Cloud- A local fire chief, a lover of Video Laryngoscopy and a Killer Dude!

Zach Maxwell- The youngest of the group, has over 5 years experience in EMS and Andy didn’t know is first name until after we started recording!


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Episode 85 Empathy and Understanding

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