listen Listen LISTEN

Welcome one and all to the brand spanking new-and-hopefully-improved docbastard.net.  I am considering moving from Blogger over to WordPress because WordPress seems to have several much more powerful utilities, including the ability not only to see the IP address of commenters, but also to ban certain IPs (ahem) from commenting.  And wouldn’t that be a nice change.  It also allows me to preview what a post will look like on a tablet and a smartphone, so I can (hopefully) optimise it for everyone.  Maybe.

Anyway, I’ve tried testing out WordPress in the past, and I found it a bit unwieldy and more difficult to navigate compared to Blogger.  But just like with anything else, I’m giving it a second chance.

Now with that administrative bullshit out of the way, let’s get right on to the real bullshit.

Though I know I come off sometimes as a bit brusque, I’m actually a very humble and modest person.  No, seriously I am.  Ok, stop laughing.  It’s true!  Can you please stop . . . ok, this is . . . god damn it, will you knock it off!  Are you done now?  Good, I’ll continue.

As I was saying, I’m actually quite modest.  That being said, I think it should be 100% mandatory that every paramedic, medic, ambulance driver, EMT, and anyone else who ever comes into contact with trauma patients in the field should read my blog during their training.  It isn’t so much that I think this stupid blog is such great reading, it’s just that I think it could be a great educational tool and they could all quickly learn a very valuable lesson, one which can be summed up in one word:

LISTEN!!

If everyone would just shut their goddamned mouths for one goddamned second and simply listened to what people were trying to tell them, my world would be a much happier place.  And as we all know, my happiness is really the most important thing.  Well, that and not letting people die, I suppose.

Since my hospital is the only trauma hospital in the area, the catchment area is quite large, and I therefore often get patients from far-flung lands brought to me.  Very often those long treks to my neck of the woods are unnecessary, as I re-discovered with Agnes (not her real name™) recently.  She was brought in from a neighbouring district after having fallen and broken her hip . . . or so the medics would have me believe as they rolled in.

“Hey Doc, this is Agnes (still not her real name™).  She’s 88 years old and fell in her kitchen onto her left hip.  She’s really tender there and that leg is definitely shorter.  I felt the bones move when I palpated it.”

It seemed like a perfectly reasonable story and a perfectly reasonable reason to make the long trek to my trauma bay . . . until I looked at Agnes’ face.  Normally folks with fractured hips are in quite a bit of pain, but Agnes’ face was downright stony.  She not only didn’t look to be in pain, but she looked almost angry.  Ok, really angry.  I thought this was strange though not completely out of the realm of possibility.  Ok, I thought, maybe she’s just a tough, stoic old lady and has a high pain tolerance.  Still, my Inner Pessimist told me that something seemed off.

As the nurses began attaching the monitors and the medics were packing up their gear, I went straight to her left hip and touched it gently.  No pain.  I touched it a little more aggressively.  Still no pain, and no “moving bones”.  Hm.  I lifted her leg up and rotated it from side to side.  Nothing.  Hmmmmm.  When I lifted the blanket from her legs I noticed that they were the exact same length.

My Inner Pessimist was right – something was definitely wrong here.  Very wrong.

“Hello Agnes, how are you today?” I asked her.

“Oh, I’m just fine, doctor,” she answered with a smile, followed by a glare at the medics.  Uh oh.  She does look fine, but she doesn’t sound happy.

“What happened?  How did you fall today, madam?” I continued.

“That’s just it.  I didn’t.” she harrumphed, her eyes boring holes into the medics who seemed to be refusing to look her in the eye.

I glanced at the medics who seemed to be trying to rush out the door, and I finally managed to make eye contact with one of them and stopped him with a look.  I beckoned him to join me.

“She says she didn’t fall.  Care to explain?” I asked him as politely as my Inner Pessimist would allow.

Medic: Well, uh, based on our information at the time, we weren’t sure if she fell.

Me: You weren’t sure?  What does that mean?  Did you ask?

Medic: Um . . . no.

Me: Well why not?  Was she awake and alert?

Medic: Yes.

Me: Then why not ask?  Why did you say she fell?

Medic: That was the information we had at the time.

I saw the conversation quickly devolving into a circular sinkhole of despair.  But before I let him leave, I turned back to Agnes.

Me: So what happened, Agnes?

Agnes: Well I was in my kitchen cooking, and I suddenly just felt a pain in my hip.  That’s it.  I tried to tell them.

The look I gave the medic clearly said “YOU ARE AN IDIOT”, and he sheepishly turned away and left.  Not only did he not admit to his mistake or apologise, but I seriously doubt he learned a damned thing.

It gets worse.

I looked at the X-ray of Agnes’ pelvis  (please sit down) which was (are you sitting?) completely normal, and then went back to talk to her.  After a little investigation, she informed me that she had in fact been cooking in her kitchen while sitting in her wheelchair when her hip started hurting.  By the time she got to me, the pain (from her arthritis) was better.

I wished the medic could have been there to hear that little nugget of information.  I wonder what he would have said about the information available at the time.

It would have taken the medics exactly 2.14 seconds to ask Agnes what happened, and that would have saved her a useless trip to the hospital and several hours of her life.  It also would have made my day slightly less aggravated.

And that concludes our lesson for today.  Close your mouth, open your ears, and listen.

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