Feet First

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Tuesday, December 21, 2004
    Friday Night in the ED

    I recently started taking hospital call again after eighteen months' grace - hospital call pays more and I'm trying to pay off some of my expenses from the basement project. (Which, by the way, is done. Hallelujah!) Last Friday was a busy night, with four admissions in a row (MI, pancreatitis, cellulitis, compression fracture of thoracic vertebra/pain control).

    I don't really mind hanging out in the emergency department, though - you meet such interesting people. For example: I was writing admission orders in the back room when two paramedics brought in an unconscious man on a stretcher. I overheard the mumbled diagnosis and poked my head out to stare:

    "He drank an entire fifth of vodka?"

    Uh huh. Suffice to say that Mr. Binge Drinker was intubated a short time later - he basically wasn't breathing.

    Then there was the matter of the progress note I overheard one of the ER docs dictating:

    Patient complains of recurrent epistaxis [nosebleed] which he
    claims was caused by a curse from his ex-wife. Patient states he prayed to
    Our Lady of Guadalupe to remove the curse but epistaxis did not improve.
    Patient therefore presented for treatment.

    Our eyes met and he grinned. Not much you can add to a medical history like that. I voicemailed V. excitedly (she was on call, too):

    "If I stayed here all night I'd have enough material to write for a month!"



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