Sunday, September 4, 2011

Only Human

The kid was brought in because of episodic right ear pain. PE showed hardened ear wax but the doctor mistakenly wrote down “left ear” and gave instructions for oil to be dropped in the left ear. After 5 days, patient came back without any improvement;

He came in because of nasal stuffiness and was found to have sinusitis. He was given antibiotics but the doctor forgot to give meds for the itchiness and stuffiness. The patient was uncomfortable for 4 days more but eventually got well;

She had difficulty swallowing for 1 week and decided to go to the ER. Nothing wrong could be seen on PE and the doctor suggested using a small camera to visualize the deeper parts of the throat. The patient hesitated and downplayed her symptoms. The doctor didn’t insist. Five days later she came back unable to eat and drink without difficulty for the past 5 days.

I was the one who saw those patients. It was a busy day. The senior residents were in the operating room and I was the only one manning the OPD and ER of my department. It was also one of those “toxic” days when patients seemed to have decided to come in all at the same time - I was on my toes the whole time. Still that isn’t an allowable excuse in this field. Maybe they were minor mistakes, small things overlooked and friends would even give encouraging words. But, what if you were one of the above patients?

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