It’s been a tough evening at the after-hours care center. It’s the middle of the cough and cold season, patients are showing up in droves, and I’m the only clinician available to see them. I pick up a clipboard with the next patient’s encounter form attached, take a deep breath and let it out slowly as I step across the threshold into the examination room where a family waits.
“I’ve got a 2-year-old son at home with strep throat,” this young mother says. “I just wanted to make sure that my daughter isn’t coming down with it, too.”
“When was your son diagnosed?” I ask.
The mother’s brow wrinkles as she contemplates my question. “About a week and a half ago,” she says.
A week and a half is certainly well outside the incubation period for strep throat, I think to myself. I press on with a few more questions.
“What symptoms has your daughter had?” I ask.
“She’s out of sorts,” the mother says. “She’s just not acting herself.”
Now it’s my turn to wrinkle my brow, albeit internally. “Any fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting, bellyache?”
The mother shakes her head. “No, nothing like that,” she says. “It’s just that every little thing seems to upset her. She’s really been extremely difficult to deal with these past 2 days at home.”
“Let’s have a look at her.”
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