Industry Update
Opinion Article23 January 2020

Not the Right Way To Do It - The Life of a Hotel Doctor

By Mike Oppenheim, MD

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Oppenheim

"My son has a boil on his leg. Our doctor says he might need an antibiotic. Could you come to the hotel?"

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A boil is collection dead tissue, full of pus and germs. It has no blood supply, so an antibiotic can't reach it. Antibiotics don't cure boils.

Left alone, a boil eventually goes away, so victims who use one of the innumerable home remedies from the internet will give it credit. Allowing nature to heal is commendable but may require few weeks of pain and misery.

Unnatural healing works more quickly. The doctor cuts into the boil, squeezes out the pus, washes the cavity with saline, and then stuffs a strip of sterile cloth into the hole. A few days later, he or she pulls out the strip.

I don't drain boils in a hotel room, so I had to decide where to send the guest. At an emergency room, the doctor would do the proper surgery, but an emergency room is a tiresome experience. Also expensive.

A local walk-in clinic would be more civilized. The downside is that the doctor in a walk-in clinic would have a background similar to mine but probably less experience.

I sent the boy to a walk-in clinic where the doctor punctured the boil and sent them away with an antibiotic. The puncture would probably seal and the boil recur (washing out the pus and packing with cloth for a few days allows healing to begin). Or it might ooze for weeks before resolving. I wish the doctor had done it the right way, but the boil would eventually heal.

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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