Industry Update
Opinion Article 5 November 2019

Too Many Cooks Again - The Life of a Hotel Doctor

By Mike Oppenheim, MD

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An eight year-old's eyelid revealed a small bump. My diagnosis was a sty. As I explained, the mother held out her cell phone.


"I e-mailed our doctor," she explained. I saw a photo of the child's face and the doctor's message which diagnosed an eye infection and prescribed antibiotic drops.

"The drops aren't working, so I might need something stronger," she added. The photograph was not too revealing. I offered to discuss matters with the doctor, but he wasn't available.

Most stys go away without treatment although hot compresses are supposed to help. Drops are irrelevant.

I explained this, being careful to add that the child had a real problem but one that didn't require medicine.

This often doesn't work, and it didn't work this time. She looked uneasy. I knew she was thinking, "The doctor's not giving me anything. So he must think there's nothing wrong. But look at the eye…"

She perked up when I told her she could continue using the drops. Everyone knows that when you have an eye problem, you need eye drops.

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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