Industry Update
Opinion Article 9 September 2019

Vomiters Hate Waiting - The Life of a Hotel Doctor

By Mike Oppenheim, MD

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As I was driving, a guest phoned to ask when I'd arrive.


"In about fifteen minutes."

On her initial call, I told her I would arrive within the hour, and I was on schedule, so the call meant that she was still vomiting. Vomiters are impatient.

My database shows 2,328 entries for "gastroenteritis" (the common stomach flu). It's my second leading diagnosis and far more satisfying than "upper respiratory infection" (4,584). Both are almost always incurable, but gastroenteritis rarely lasts more than a day; patients give me credit when it goes away.

The guest greeted me at the door, a good sign. A guest in bed is OK, sprawled on the bathroom floor is not good.

I asked the usual questions and did not interrupt as she delivered a precise, item by item, account of dinner. Almost everyone blames an upset stomach on their last meal, a belief as correct as most popular health beliefs. I gave the usual advice which included telling her to stop what she was doing (putting fluid into her stomach as fast as it came out) and to suck on ice and wait.

I gave the usual antivomiting injection and two packets of pills which I had pocketed before leaving so I wouldn't have to remember to restock my bag.

When I phoned later, she had recovered and expressed gratitude that I had cured her.

Mike Oppenheim

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