Pager Trouble

August 20, 2018

One of the first items I was issued when I started residency, along with my ID badge, was a pager. Yes, we still have pagers, which has invited derisive remarks from local churls if we go out immediately after work and forget to leave them in the car. You may be surprised to learn that we heavily rely upon fax machines as well. Modern medicine!

Turns out one of the first things you need as a resident is a pager.
Turns out one of the first things you need as a resident is a pager.

At UCSD, our pagers aren’t even two-way, which causes much consternation when, as a Millennial, I receive what are essentially text messages to which I cannot respond. There have been other challenges as well: For example, my pager number isn’t attached to my name in Epic, our EMR. I initially tried asking the IT department in charge of Epic to update my profile, but apparently if you’re a resident, that task is delegated to Someone Else. One might think they could simply enter the number into the appropriate field, but I guess it’s grayed out for them or something.

Every so often I receive pages meant for someone else, causing an initial moment of panic as I am the least qualified person to address whatever the paged issue entails. This was especially common immediately after starting: My first week of internship I repeatedly received urgent pages from some kind of cardiac transplant dispatch, leading to an extended phone call where I patiently explained that no, I am not the doctor in question, nor am I their authorized representative, and in fact am an intern-level resident in Child Neurology at UCSD. At one point all of us interns received what appeared to be a series of emails in German. Herr Ottar is missing some information about his chronic pain patient; however, the entire UCSD Pediatrics Intern Class is well aware.

This week I got a “test page” from someone in Cardiology. While questioning whether or not I was expected to call back, a flurry of pages began to arrive from people informing the initial sender that they had paged the wrong person. A look at our intern group message confirmed: Something was amiss at Pager Central. We had a hospital-wide reply allpocalypse in effect, complete with an exasperated plea from some unfortunate soul who most likely was working nights and attempting to sleep.

QUIT PAGING THE ENTIRE DAMN HOSPITAL!!!!

Some unfortunate soul
Since when did pagers even have a "reply all" function?!