Industry Update
Opinion Article24 April 2019

A Better Medicine - The Life of a Hotel Doctor

By Mike Oppenheim, MD

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A 2 year-old was ill with vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and a rash. That sounded bad.


I know a pediatrician who makes housecalls, and I considered sending him. But the news came from the guest's travel insurer, and their pronouncements are often exaggerated. I decided to go but to call him if matters seemed complicated.

The guest greeted me at the door with a cheerful toddler at his side. That, to my relief, was the patient. He still had diarrhea, and a spotty rash was present but fading.

Suffering a respiratory infection, the child had seen the family doctor and received the traditional antibiotic. Instead of amoxicillin (the world's most popular antibiotic for people who don't need an antibiotic), he had prescribed Augmentin, excellent when necessary but a legendary stomach upsetter.

The parents took for granted that the solution was a better medicine and something for his rash and diarrhea. But this was one of those situations where stopping everything works best.

Mike Oppenheim

In his regular column "The Life of a Hotel Doctor", Mike Oppenheim shares remarkable stories around visiting hotel guests as a doctor. When he began as a hotel doctor during the 1980s, only luxury hotels had a “house doctor,” usually a local practitioner who did it as a sideline. Nowadays, in a large city even the lowliest motel receives blandishments from a dozen individuals plus several agencies that send moonlighting doctors if they can find one.

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