Student or Learner
"Dancer had Marina ring her contact at the hospital and pull 'medical courtesy' thing. Piggy had regained consciousness, but they wouldn't let the police question him yet."
(Piggy is a friend of Dancer and Marina's and involved in a murder case. Yet, he collapsed before the police came and was hospitalized. It seems that Dancer and Marina are trying to keep the police from Piggy.)
What is the underlined phrase mean?
Thanks a lot!
A policeman can phone a cop (a perfect stranger) in a distant city, and just out of professional solidarity, the distant cop will do some favor for the caller -- search his records, send copies of documents, discuss behind-the-scenes information, things like that.
In this case, Marina prevailed on her contact in the hospital to do her a favor (whatever it is in the story -- tell her insider information, look up the patient's records, whatever it was that Marina wanted to know.) Marina got this favor by telling her contact that she needed a favor as a "professional courtesy" -- one medical person to another.
The idea is that it makes one's job much easier if they get the favor, and professionals in your own field are sympathetic to this. A lot of the time, a favor done out of "professional courtesy" involves doing things that shouldn't be done (like giving access to confidential documents) or that are not available to the ordinary person (like sharing insider information.) But this is not always the case.
"Professional courtesy" has another meaning. It also means that professionals in the same field waive their fees when they give their professional services to another practitioner in their field. Thus, a lawyer won't charge another lawyer for advice, and a doctor won't send a bill to another doctor.
If a professor called me and asked me to tutor his nephew, he would be asking me for a favor based on "professional courtesy," and if I agreed to do it, I would not charge the student. In real life, a professor did call me to ask me to withdraw a failing grade I had given his relative. In this case, I refused (and I reported it to the Administration too.)
Here is a lawyer joke:
Q: Why don't sharks ever attack lawyers?
A: Professional courtesy!