Lives saved: 0. Deaths delayed: 2-ish.
I was at work yesterday when some old lady called to ask if her side effects were due to a particular medicine. She was on something that should maybe crank you up, make you restless and/or energetic. She said she was feeling drowsy all the time but when she tries to take a nap, she only sleeps for a few minutes.
Now before you think I'm an insensitive douche (or perhaps concurrently with your growing sense that I'm an insensitive douche), I must protest that I had already endured all manner of unproductive, circular, and generally ignorant phone conversations all week. In brief, they consisted largely of 1) old ladies who just wanted someone to talk to, and 2) random callers trying to get free medical advice, and then stringing along the conversation in the unlikely hope that I'll reverse my initial advice and tell them not to go to a doctor, and 3) asshats trying to wheedle, coerce, or trick the pharmacist into filling their narcotics waaaay too early, and 4) people who ask to speak only to the pharmacist, but who then proceed to give me simple routine refill requests that even our most incompetent staff members can perform, and so on.
Very few of these things produce revenue, and our corporate overlords do not value non-revenue-generating public services in any of their equations.
So anyway I told her what I knew, which was that I didn't know what it was but I thought it was something she should mention to her doctor. Sometimes the right answer is to admit that there are things you don't know. I've seen enough egotistical nurses bullshitting their way through their professional careers to know better.
Back to the story. From out of the area beyond conversational left field, she goes, "Well what about carbon monoxide?"
And I'm like, uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yes? Absolutely. Those are symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure. Yes. And she abruptly thanks me and hangs up.
Naturally I had to make fun of this most recent caller with all my fellow co-workers. Oh what a hilarious time we had taking turns devising witty hypothetical retorts and fashioning anecdotes out of the experience. And it was deemed by all who heard it that her surprise tangent was indeed ridicule worthy.
Then she calls back 3 hours later and asks to speak with me. She claimed that I saved her life. She asked for my name. She said that she called the utility company and they sent out a technician. He clocked her house at 200ppm. (Dangerous levels are like 30-60ppm.) He said she probably wouldn't have lived through the night.
So that was cool and all. Except for the part where I made fun of her, of course.
Oh and also a couple of years ago some lady said I saved her mom's life too. I went way out of my way to tell her that I thought her doctor was possibly making a mistake on a certain drug decision. But he wouldn't change it when I called to advise / ask him about it. So I told her what all to watch out for and she ended up catching it and taking her mom to the hospital. It was trimsulfa with warfarin if anybody's keeping score.
So that was cool and all.