The focus of this web site is medicine. In this blog, you’ll read about patient stories. The situations have been changed to be HIPAA compliant. Factual statements may or may not be true. I may change ages, gender or presenting complaints about patients. I may even entirely make up complete patient encounters from my fertile imagination. Trust me, if you think I’m writing about you, I’m not. There are billions of people in this world and readers send me stories about patients all the time. It isn’t you.
You’ll also read a lot about health care policy. I may throw in posts about life lessons, computers, and will even throw in family stories once in a while. If you’re looking for articles about politics, sports, or celebrities, you’re in the wrong place – unless the topics have some relationship to medicine.
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By Birdstrike MD I saw a story in the news about something that happened to an ER doctor. It reminded me of something that had happened to me before, so I started writing about it. Then my imagination got a little bit carried away. So, let’s just say parts of this story are absolutely true, and other parts are, well…just read along. I walk in for my ER shift. There’s a letter in my department mailbox. It’s a hand written letter from a patient. I open it, “Hey doc! I just wanted to thank you for taking care of me last week. It was one of the low points of my life and I really had hit rock bottom. You’re the first one to talk to me like a human being. You convinced me to get help. They finally let me out. Thanks, again. You saved my life. You’re a great doctor. We should hang out sometime.” Sincerely, Jerry —– Cell: XXX-XXX-XXXX” I remember the patient. I admitted him for severe alcohol intoxication, depression and suicidal thoughts about 2 weeks ago. It’s not that often that you get to start out a shift with a “thank you” letter, albeit with a bizarre request at the end to “hang out sometime.” In this ER game, you take every pat on the back you can get, because they don’t come every day. I walk to the pit to see my first patient. First up is, “Broken wrist.” I walk into the room and it’s him, Jerry, the letter writer. “Hi, Jerry, what can I do for you today?” “This,” he holds up his mangled right hand and wrist. “I got pissed off and punched a wall.” “Wow, you sure did a number on yourself. What happened?” I ask. “Did you get my letter?” he asks. “Yes. Why do you ask?” I wonder aloud. He stares at me silently, and uncomfortably long. “Oh, I don’t know,” he trails off, staring through me. “Just fix me up, and we’re good.” I walk out of the room. That was weird, I think to myself. I put in an order for x-ray of the hand and wrist. I put that plate up in the air to spin, and move on to: Chest pain, Migraine, “Can’t see,” Sprained knee, “Menstrual,” “Sick still,” Split lip, “Vag drip.” Jerry’s x-ray is done. Wow. He’s completely shattered his wrist and 4th and 5th metacarpals in his hand. I haven’t seen a one this bad in a long time. I walk into his room. “Jerry, you’ve badly fractured your hand and wrist. You’ll probably even need surgery. I’m going to call the orthopedic surgeon.” “No. I want you to fix it. You owe me, big time,” Jerry says. “No, you don’t understand. It’s badly fractured. You need a surgeon for this, a specialist,” I explain. “Did you hear me? I said, ‘NO ’,” he says, gritting his teeth so hard they could shatter. After years of seeing anything from little old ladies to psychopathic criminals, it takes a lot for a patient to truly bother me, but this guy is truly disturbing in a way that’s hard to describe. It’s time to get out of this room. “That’s the way it has to be for you to get the best care,” I say and walk out of the room. As I get to the door, he yells, “This s—t is your fault mother f—-r! You should have called me back. I left my cell number on the letter for a reason. YOU shattered my hand and wrist. This is because of ...Read More »