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Post 37 Inexperience leads to embarrassment!

The patient was a lad of about 19 years who was clearly drunk.He was quite unable to give an account of himself but his mates said that he had fallen down some steps on his way home from one of the nightclubs in the city centre.

Inexperienced as I was, it was obvious from the gross deformity of his ankle that his ankle was broken and from my medical training I knew that an x-ray would be required to determine the nature and extent of his injury.I also knew that the radiographer ‘on call’ would be tucked up in her bed somewhere in the nurse’s home. Nurses and female radiographers were locked up at night at a safe distance from the doctor’s residency!

Confident that I was following the correct procedure I rang her and apologised politely for disturbing her. I then explained about the lad with the ankle injury and invited her (with an appropriate ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ as becomes a lowly resident) to confirm my diagnosis. I remember one of the senior physicians advising that you shoul…

Post 36 Another embarrassing medical moment

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Almost all of my medical experience had been spent in a hospital environment; mainly as a medical student but also as a junior doctor.    I had noticed that consultants sometimes spoke of their general practitioner colleagues with a certain disdain.   They seemed to regard themselves as superior beings and were prone to comment adversely on GPs diagnostic skills and the quality of their referral letters.   As a result, I embarked on my locum GP post eager to set a high standard.    How the mighty are fallen for within a few days my eyes were opened to the entirely different world that is general practice and the range of skills and experience required of the general practitioner.

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I had been asked to see a lady on a home visit who was breathless.   She was a wiry 75 year old and the moment I walked through the door, I realised that I had a medical emergency on my hands.    She was collaps…

Post 35 Embarrassing medical moments

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My pager sounded its loud, shrill, urgent call, something that always caused my heart to flutter.It was an anxious technician from the pathology laboratory.

“Doctor, you’ve sent us a blood sample on a man called Walter Franklin. The request card says he had surgery yesterday.I thought you ought to know; his haemoglobin is only twenty percent of normal.I’ve checked with the blood bank and they’ve no blood cross matched for him.I think you ought to get a sample down to them straight away.”

I was stunned.I’d seen Mr Franklin not a couple of hours before and he had looked as right as rain. There was no suggestion that he was bleeding. He certainly hadn’t look pale or shocked.
I dashed back to the ward, grabbed a needle and syringe and ran to his bedside. But when I got there he was sitting up in bed, reading the newspaper, looking pink and healthy. His observation charts showed a rock steady pulse and blood pressure. He wanted to know why I was in such a rush!


My brain tried desperately to …

Post 34 Beware; the effect of drugs can be unpredictable.

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William Wetherall, the hospital’s Senior  Physician, led his team of doctors and nurses onto the ward. It seemed that the theme for this particular  round was to be the varying effects that drugs can have on different patients. The consultant had recently read reports in the Medical Journals that many well known proprietary medicines, particularly cough medicines, had been shown in 

scientific studies to have no useful therapeutic effect.This advice had particularly pleased me as I had painful memories of the  nauseous linctuses that my mother had forced me to swallow four times a day as a child whenever I had been ill!   Not only had they been foul tasting, it now appeared that they had done absolutely nothing to speed my recovery!! ‘Doctors will now have to find other treatments for patients who have nothing seriously wrong with them,’ he remarked humorously. We stopped beside the bed of a lady who had been admitted having vomited some blood.    On investigation, this had proved to be…

Post 33 Never assume that because you are a doctor you know better then the nurse

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My unfortunate patient, Mr Quigley, was already distressed and when I suggested a second attempt to pass the nasogastric tube  into his stomach he looked concerned. I’d already made one ill-judged attempt but the entire length of the tube had coiled inside his mouth making his face inflate like hamster’s cheek pouches!Fortunately Mr Quigley didn’t seem to realise that this was the first time I had ever undertaken this procedure.


I apologised, gave him gave him a couple of minutes to recover, then tried again.  Gently I eased about 4 inches into his nose, then stopped and looked in his mouth.   Great; the tube was nowhere to be seen.  I advanced another inch, re-inspected the mouth and again was delighted there was still no sign of the tube.  I relaxed; the tip of the tube must now be safely in the gullet.   I pushed another two inches up the nose with renewed confidence.

 Suddenly, and without any warning, Mr Quigley’s hands grasped desperately at this throat as he gasped for breath.…