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. 

alt“Are you sure I don’t need that magic stroke medication that I saw on TV?” you hear a patient ask through the curtains in your acute care area. “I am within the 3-hour window.” You pause to listen to your senior resident reassure the patient that she is not having a stroke and explain to her the risks and benefits of that “magic stroke medication”.

alt“You need to have a rectal exam” you explain to one of your patients. He’s a 47-year-old with chronic back pain who is in the ED for an exacerbation of his pain accompanied by many of the associated accoutrements, such as sciatica, numbness and trouble urinating.

 alt“Do you know the four A’s of being a great emergency physician?” a colleague asks. He just overheard you giving your “It’s a virus” lecture to a twenty-something with a bad URI and no PMD to call her in a useless prescription for Fogmentin or Maxifloxicin.

alt“Hey, save some pizza for me!” your resident exclaims as he joins the masses indulging in a late night treat from the ED administration. Over the past few months, the department’s “door-to-doc” times and “length-of-stay” times have improved enough to warrant a pizza party for the staff.

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