Weekend in Selkirk

Borders General Hospital
View of the car parked at the Borders General Hospital; Mum has a blue badge so we could park legitimately in the disabled spaces.

On Friday evening I drove down to Selkirk to see Mum; the first time I’d been down for months.

My plan/agenda was:

  • spend some time with Mum
  • install Mum’s new BT Synergy 4500 phones
  • update the antivirus software on Mum’s laptop
  • put up a hook on the back of the kitchen door
  • hang some pictures
  • take a wreath to the cemetery
  • move some things out to Mum’s newly constructed shed

Here’s what we did:

  • spend some time with Mum
  • install Mum’s new BT Synergy 4500 phones
  • update the antivirus software on Mum’s laptop
  • put up a hook on the back of the kitchen door
  • hang some pictures
  • take my sister Jenni to Accident & Emergency at the Borders General Hospital, where she was diagnosed with shingles
  • take Jenni to the local pharmacy for her newly prescribed medication
  • take Jenni and her cat Myla to the vet for an emergency consultation. One quick injection of antibiotics later and we were driving back from St Boswells to Selkirk
  • move some things out to Mum’s newly constructed shed

It certainly wasn’t an uneventful visit, but I did get to spend some extra time with Jenni, which was lovely. I do love my Mum and my sister.

Accident and Emergency?

While sitting at A&E it occurred to me that the department might be better called Accident and/or Emergency, because Accident and Emergency implies that both conditions need to be met before a patient will be treated.

Scenario #1

Receptionist: Hello, can I help you?
Patient: Yes please, I’ve had an accident.
Receptionist: An accident, excellent. Tick. Now, can you tell me: is this an emergency?
Patient: An emergency? Well, no … I suppose it could wait until Monday to be seen by my local general practitioner.
Receptionist: I’m afraid that is going to have to be the case, you see this is an accident and emergency department.
Patient: Oh.
Receptionist: Don’t worry, it happens quite a lot. You see, what you are wanting is an Accident and/or Emergency department.

Scenario #2

Receptionist: Hello, can I help you?
Patient: Yes please, it’s an emergency!
Receptionist: An emergency, excellent. Tick. Now, can you tell me: was this the result of an accident?
Patient: An accident? Well, no … I was in a street brawl and my opponent deliberately attacked me with a variety of poorly executed moves he’d learned from a Playstation 2 game.
Receptionist: Ah … you see this is an Accident and Emergency department.
Patient: Oh.
Receptionist: What you want is the local Deliberate and Emergency department.
Patient: I see. Sorry to trouble you, I shall go in search of such a medical department, thank you for your assistance.
Receptionist: You are very welcome. I hope you stop bleeding presently.

You see, the government spend far too much money reorganizing the NHS in ridiculous ways every couple of years, without thinking it through. This method would allow some kind of basic triage to be determined before the patient walks through the doors. You’d have three departments:

  1. Accident and Emergency
  2. Accident and/or Emergency
  3. Deliberate and Emergency

Simple.

3 thoughts on “Weekend in Selkirk”

  1. Well, now it’s official: Information architecture owns you. Go ahead my friend, admit it. There there. It’ll be alright.

    I’m told that most people – you know, normal people – do not consider IA a world view. For them, it blows in like the haar, makes everything all hazy and slippery underfoot for a while, and then, blessedly, leaves them (perhaps with head cold). Apparently it doesn’t follow everyone home from the office. Or to hospital with afflicted loved ones.

    As someone with a similar IA-related condition, I cast my vote for “Accident or Emergency”. Unless the NHS adopts your three-door triage system, it seems enough to ascertain that at least one of the conditions is true. In fact, I don’t see why accidents enter into the matter. The U.S. convention Emergency Room, makes me think of a little room where you procure an emergency, but I see now that it has some advantages.

    Even with the ingenious portal-based triage, every emergency could correctly choose two of the three doors. Only one door would be wrong. This is why I am no fan of “and/or”. I would probably stand outside bleeding while trying to figure out the one correct place to get stitched up. Wikipedia says I may not be alone:

    The phrase [and/or] has come under considerable criticism in the legal profession in both American and British courts. …The Wisconsin Supreme Court referred to it as “that befuddling, nameless thing, that Janus-faced verbal monstrosity.”

    That’s especially funny if you imagine it in a Wisconsin accent. (Fargo is close enough. See also.)

    I wish all concerned a speedy recovery.

    Cheers!

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