As more hospitals are moving to computerized charting, I believe that it is important for our pejorative terms to keep up with the technology. Ever since there have been airlines, the term frequent flier has been used to describe patients that come to the ED repeatedly. Most administrators do not appreciate this term and try to convince us to use terms such as frequent ED user, or patient with repetitive emergency medicine needs, but we all know a frequent flier when we see one.
Some frequent fliers are legitimately sick patients, and deserve a politically correct term, such as frequent ED user, but there is a subset of frequent fliers that have earned a more derogatory term. It is this group of frequent users that needs a new term to welcome them into the 21st century.
These patients come in to the registration desk and have so many ED visits that the scroll bar is needed to see them all. This leads us to the term to be used for the super ED user/abuser, “Scroller.” The term scroller is vague enough not to be offensive to administrators that are walking around, but has just enough edge and negative connotation that we can enjoy using it for our favorite narcotic seeking patients, or those with chronic psychosocial dystrophy.
My current hospital switched to electronic charting a few years ago, and the system we use can show up to 60 visits before the scroll bar is needed to see them all. We were all amazed when just a few short months after starting electronic charting that we had a few frequent fliers – excuse me, scrollers – whose history log would fill the screen. It was at that point that the term scroller came into being, and has been in use ever since.
Unfortunately, the number of scrollers increases every year to the point where we can’t even remember all of their names, even though we see them more often than our favorite cousins.
Join me in saying goodbye to the frequent fliers, a term that leads us to believe we are happy for their repeat business and will offer them better seating and discounts if they just keep coming. Instead, let’s say hello to all of the “scrollers” we see every day.
From my book, Haiku STAT!
Too many visits.
Scroll bar needed to see them.
You are a “Scroller.”