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How To Make 1,000 Emergency Medicine Doctors Cry: Bring an Ophthalmologist in on a Saturday

Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.

There was not a dry eye in the room as social media superstars Dr. Will Flanary and his wife Kristin, better known by their social media names Dr. and Lady Glaucomflecken, recounted the harrowing night when Kristin found her young husband in cardiac arrest. They played the 911 phone call where you could hear Kristin giving CPR for nearly 10 minutes and asking to keep quiet so as to not wake their two children sleeping next door.

Dr. Glaucomflecken was dressed in his stereotypical emergency medicine costume, including his bicycle helmet and can of diet cola. With his well-renowned comedic sarcasm, Dr. Glaucomflecken then recounts his multiple subsequent issues and encounters with the healthcare system, from getting a defibrillator, to insurance denials, to dealing with pharmacy benefit managers.

Dr. Glaucomflecken (@DGlaucomflecken) is a practicing ophthalmologist who also maintains a large social media presence. He is no stranger to the medical system, as he also dealt with testicular cancer as a young adult. He says he used comedy prior to entering medicine to help him deal with the stress of that diagnosis. 

More recently, he is well known online for skits and videos highlighting many medical stereotypes. Since his cardiac arrest, he has also highlighted many more system issues. For example, when his insurance denied his cardiac arrest hospital visit because he went to an “out of network” hospital – quite a conundrum to expect a person without a heartbeat to choose an “in network” hospital for literally the most serious emergency in all of medicine.

Lady Glaucomflecken (@LGlaucomflecken) discussed her journey as a trauma survivor and how the two of them are now using humor and advocacy to heal themselves. They closed out their presentation with this take home, “Don’t forget that before you are a physician, you are a human. When you encounter someone like me in your workplace – a family member, lay responders, the co-survivors – remember our shared humanity and reach out to help.”

Thousands of Emergency Medicine physicians convened in San Francisco for the largest annual conference for Emergency Medicine, ACEP22. The American College of Emergency Physicians sponsors this conference annually, which showcases the latest in research, education, policy, innovations, and technology. It is also a chance for socializing, de-stressing, and revitalization for those in the specialty that has become the epitome of the overtaxed healthcare system.

Team Galucomflecken’s keynote filled the room and is considered by nearly everyone in attendance to be one of the best and most emotional keynote speeches in many years. “This was the pickup we all needed after COVID and recent burnout – a reminder about why we do this,” said one attendee. 

The conference this year is unique because it is the largest in-person Emergency Medicine conference since the COVID-19 shut-downs in 2020 (with a notably strong vaccination and testing protocol). As expected, clinical topics this year were wide-ranging, from cardiac to trauma to neurology to psychiatry, and many more. Other keynote speeches included Dr. Wintemute discussing firearm injury prevention research, Dr. Bryant discussing diversity and inclusion, and Dr. Birnbaumer discussing burnout and careers in Emergency Medicine. The Emergency Medicine physicians who attended this conference will be leaving refreshed with a renewed focus on the humanity in medicine and many practice-changing updates in emergency care.

Image by INSAGO / Shutterstock

Dr. Davis has no conflicts of interest to report.

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