Friday, June 03, 2005

Are you sure that's what's wrong with you?

Sparked by an incident that happened tonight, I polled some of my co-workers and found that sometimes patients don't exactly tell the truth when the ER triage nurse asks them what's wrong. Later, when the doctor sees them, they confess the real problem. So, back pain becomes rectal bleeding, headache becomes viscous fluid dripping from the penis, and the one that started this whole exploration, rapid weight loss becomes cocaine indulgence.

Sometimes though, they never fess up to what's wrong with them. Say for instance when they get arrested and a cop brings them in because their pulse is sky high. Handcuffed to the gurney, they'll deny any illegal drug use because the arresting officer is standing there. Asshat, the tox screen is going to be positive for coke or meth or whatever, quit dicking around and tell the doctor what you did so s/he can make sure you don't die. That happened twice tonight.

One of the guys loudly complained that his rights were being violated and he wanted his lawyer until a nurse told him, "Sir, this is a hospital and there are sick people here who don't want to hear about your personal problems." He continued to complain, but at a more reasonable volume. Then a clinical assistant needed to get his temperature. The patient wasn't cooperating so the CA says, "I'm going to take your temperature, orally or rectally. Your choice." Patient's mouth pops open. I almost sniggered.

Clearly he wasn't going to answer my registration questions so I left about the time he started promising lawsuits against the police, doctors, nurses, really anyone in visual range.

Interesting sidenote, if you're arrested for public intoxication and the cops bring you to the hospital, you can't refuse treatment.

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