In the early days of my pediatric practice when I was working completely by myself, it was very common to receive calls from patients at all hours of the night. Some of these calls were legitimate emergencies; others were matters which could have been addressed during normal office hours.
However, it is a known fact in pediatrics that children’s fevers are often higher during the evening and night hours. It wasn’t unusual for new parents to become alarmed at the first sign of a rising temperature, so I would often receive these “fever calls” just as I was ready to go to bed.
One call, however, humbled me.
A friend who was actually the lawyer for our practice called me and the answering service put it through to me immediately.
“My daughter has a fever of 107!” he screamed.
Trying to calm him down, I replied, “No, you mean 100.7, don’t you?”
“No, I took it twice and it’s 107.1……….. and now she’s having a seizure!” he yelled.
“O.K.” I answered, calmly, “Call 911 and bring her to the hospital immediately.”
It turned out that she was developing chicken pox encephalitis and she was running high fevers during the first three days of her hospitalization.
I learned from that encounter that sometimes an anxious parent is accurate. Even in panic mode, parents can be right.