altWhat an interesting week it’s been. You witnessed the untimely death of a young mother and an ED delivery of a newborn in the same shift. You took care of an elderly man with hypermagnesemia and then a  young, otherwise healthy man with vomiting and hand cramps that made all his fingers look like they had swan-neck deformities. You just tapped an ankle and diagnosed new onset gout. Now you are about to tap a wrist, and, given how your week has been going, you figure it will probably be pseudogout.

altIt’s going to be one of those shifts. You just sent a 29- year-old male to the cardiac cath lab for a bona-fide ST elevation MI. Your patient with a chief complaint of “eye pain” ended up having metastatic cancer within his right orbit, and your seemingly straight-forward post-partum woman with a headache had an MR venogram showing a dural vein thrombosis.

altIt seems like your entire shift has been non-specific abdominal pain, peppered with a few non-cardiac chest pains and some non-organic headaches that are only relieved by Dilaudid. No one feels your pain from taking care of patients that don’t really need to be in the ED in the first place, but hey, it’s job security, right? So you suck it up and grab the next chart in the to-be-seen box. The chief complaint reads “gas pains.”

altJust when your evening can’t get any worse, two of your stellar EM residents come up to you and inform you that the internal medicine team is trying to “block” yet another admission. This is the 5th attempt at refusal today. The patient in question is acidotic, thrombocytopenic, altered, and bleeding from around the PICC line that was placed while he was in the hospital last week.

altYou got stuck with another holiday shift. As usual it starts off slow, but eventually a bolus of patients arrives, to make up for lost time and then some. Fortunately most of your patients aren’t that sick.

alt“There is no such thing as a ‘black cloud’,” your colleague jokingly retorts. “We all get the same chances to make the diagnosis and to do what’s right.” You give him your best pseudo-evil-eye as you continue to recount the number of unfortunate cases you’ve seen with the residents this evening already.

altIt’s one of those average days in the ED where you work. It’s not too busy, but it’s not exactly what you would call slow either. Your shift has been a little bit on the boring side: lots of URIs, non-specific abdominal pain, low-risk chest pain, ankle sprains, and the occasional mild CHF or COPD flare. Also, too many people with the dreaded “multiple complaints” presentation.

altA 34 y/o male presents to your emergency department with an obvious shoulder deformity after trying to wash his hair and hearing his shoulder “pop.” The patient has a past medical history of three shoulder dislocations in the last month. He was drinking alcohol last night and took off his arm sling to shower when the incident occurred. Exam reveals a shoulder deformity consistent with a left anterior shoulder dislocation

alt“Get them out of here,” you hear your colleague next to you exclaim. “Treat ‘em and street ‘em. We need to open up some more beds.” You wrinkle your nose and wonder quietly if we’ve all become so focused on throughput that we’ve somehow lost sight of why we all signed up for this job in the first place.

altA 20-year-old male presents to your ED complaining of five days of throat pain and tactile fevers. He reports that the pain is worse on the left, and is associated with oropharyngeal swelling and odynophagia. 

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