Friday, November 19, 2010

Punctuation matters more than you think

There are days at work when I'm on top of everything. Yesterday was not one of those days. I realized this as I was reading the crisis log from the night before. The log follows the time-honored format of listing the patient, the hospital at which they were seen by the crisis department, and what problem drove them to seek crisis services.
"John Doe. Random County Hospital. Delusional, found by police intoxicated, naked and directing traffic. Indigent."
"Jane Doe. Our Lady of the Wilderness Medical Center. Suicidal cobra."
I read this and had a grand old WTF moment. Not at John's plight, mind you. If ever there were a good reason for the sheriff to take one on an unexpected trip to the ER of the local psych hospital, that would be it.
But Jane's predicament was a different story. I mean, what the heck does a suicidal cobra have to do with calling our county's crisis hot line? Is it even legal to own a cobra in this state? If it doesn't talk and doesn't have movable eyelids, how do you know the snake's emotional state?
After I got done pondering these things aloud with the crisis workers, one of them politely pointed out that the crisis log's format had changed. It now had room for the client's insurance information. Jane was suicidal. With COBRA insurance.

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