A Canadian VIP was arriving without his medication, explained the manager of a Sunset Strip hotel. He had asked if the house doctor would prescribe it. I didn't recognize the drug's name, but it probably had an American equivalent.
I told her that I have no objection legitimate medication - heart pills, et al. The guest should have a pharmacist identify it and then phone for my approval. The manager seemed pleased.
"He brought a letter from his doctor," she added helpfully.
That was bad news. In thirty years, I've determined that twenty percent of guests who bring letters have complex medical problems that require an explanation; the rest are under the impression that an official document will convince a doctor to prescribe something he ordinarily wouldn't.
Sure enough, the pharmacist informed me that the guest wanted a hundred of a popular sleeping pill. This guaranteed tedious consequences. The most critical, from a hotel doctor's perspective, was that he might ask the manager to suggest another doctor, explaining that I had heartlessly refused his appeal. My competitors are all honorable physicians, but denying a favor from the manager of a new and potentially lucrative hotel might prove painful. I wanted to spare them that. Immediately phoning the general manager, I explained that her guest was making a request that no ethical physician would grant. I urged her not to get involved but insist that he take up the matter with me.
During his first call, I listened as he described the complex sleep disorder he and his doctor were wrestling with. Perhaps I could examine him, he added. While this sounds reasonable, such visits involved an unspoken understanding that if I came and took his money, I would give the prescription. That felt too much like selling drugs. I countered with a suggestion that his doctor phone me to discuss matters, adding a plug for an over-the-counter sleep remedy.
His doctor wouldn't call, and OTC sleeping pills are feeble, so I could expect to hear from him in a day or two, but the clock was running. In a few days he might check out and return home or bother a doctor in another hotel. In a pinch, I could make him an office appointment to see a colleague. Some are more liberal than I, and refusing a drug abuser's request in an office is less likely to cause a scene than in a hotel room.
Doctor Oppenheim has been a hotel doctor in Los Angeles for thirty years. He has made about 15,000 visits.
Authors contact: Mike Oppenheim Email: firstname.lastname@example.org