Quite often in our line of work, what seems to be inconsequential turns out to be critical. That’s why I never taken anything for granted. Details matter.
My favorite example of this is a story I have from a few years ago, when I received a call from an elderly man whose chief complaint was that he simply wasn’t feeling right. On the surface things seemed fine. But after a number of detailed, specific questions, I became concerned that this patient was having a stroke.
I urged him to call 911 and go the the emergency room for further evaluation. Like many patients, he was very hesitant about going to the ER. It seemed like an inconvenience, and he just didn’t want to go! His response was, “I don’t want to bother anybody. Besides, no one cares.”
I responded, “I care, and if you don’t go to the ER, I won’t be able to sleep tonight, because I’ll be worrying about you!” Finally, he agreed to call 911. Several months later I received a call from him, thanking me for saving his life. After we chatted for a few minutes, he closed by saying “I appreciate what you did for me that day.”
I often think about that man. When he comes to mind, I am humbled by the unlikely turn of events that led to that led me to ask him to go to the emergency room, not for his peace of mind, but for mine. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to help him.