Kerry Hamm uses real-life experiences to present a different view of the medical world than that seen by sick people in A Double Dose of Dilaudid. Most of us like to believe that doctors, nurses, and administrative staff in hospitals and clinics know more than “we” (general public) know about how to treat our illnesses and wounds. Kerry Hamm shows this to be true when medical personnel have accurate information given freely by patients not trying to conceal embarrassing or illegal behavior that led to their presence in the Emergency Room (ER). Hamm writes with wry humor that can be summed up as “You are not going to believe this.” There is useful information for those who might try to conceal their actual reason for going to the ER. As Hamm and other characters will repeatedly note throughout the novel, “We have seen and heard it all.”
For this novel, Hamm uses experiences in an ER of a small Ohio hospital. The author is an administrator, not a nurse, although long service in an ER might cause patients to consider Kerry as a front-line treatment technician. The job of completing registration procedures at some point either before, during, or after treatment is illustrated more than once as Hamm tells patients, “If you get out of the ER or hospital without registering, the bill comes directly to you, not the insurance company.” It is a general given that health care will be one in the top three concerns of the US electorate in the next election. Whether Obamacare (AFCA) Medicare for all or a mashup of private and government funding, health care reform will happen. How it comes about is essential. Hamm gives examples of how ridiculous some medical care costs have become.
Hamm’s sense of humor can be seen in the titles of a few of her other published novels. You Stuck What in Where, You Were Stabbed Where? and But I came by Ambulance give readers a glimpse of humor to come. The book has serious advice, some painfully obvious (no pun intended). My references are to the audiobook narrated by Donnas Postel.
“Use of power tools while drinking alcohol is not a good thing” (chap 54).
“Take the shirt off before ironing to avoid bad burns” (chap 56).
“Erectile Dysfunction is not an emergency” (chap 60).
“If you complain about the waiting time in an ER, it is probably not an emergency” (chap 74).
The last piece of advice given in chapter 77 of the audiobook is: “Your grandmother was right. Always wear clean underwear.”
Many anecdotes Hamm presents reflect substantial social and legal concerns. When should the police be called? The correct course of action is sometimes prescribed by law, as is the case with suspected spousal abuse and child molestation. Should authorities be informed when a fourteen-year-old shows up in ER pregnant? After all, she was accompanied by her twenty-seven-year-old mother. And her forty-year-old grandmother. How should staff deal with patients needing help from mental health workers? Who determines who should be called? The answer to these questions is addressed by Hamm. As a registration technician, she was responsible for steering the patient to the correct nurse, therapist, doctor, social service person, or law enforcement agency.
I found the accounts of how medical personnel managed to avoid getting angry in the face of rude and threatening behavior almost unbelievable. I could not do the job Hamm and colleagues did without repaying abusive behavior in kind. Similarly, when patients proved that there were stupid questions (and answers), I would have been unable to avoid laughing. When one patient was asked about recent foreign travel, the answer was that the patient had been to a wedding in New Mexico. A potential patient called the ER to ask what the operating hours were. As ridiculous as these examples are, I reflected on stupid things I may have said in my visits to clinics and hospitals. Of course, I could not match the ridiculous anecdotes I read in this novel. Of course.
The Kindle print edition of this novel is on sale for USD 2.99 and is available for free on Kindle Unlimited. It is available as an audiobook. On average, chapters were less than five minutes. The longest was fifteen minutes. Because of mostly short chapters, this is an enjoyable listening experience to carry around. The collection of anecdotes is a five-star listen in its genre. I found the presentation original and will read some of Hamm’s other books.