Chief Complaint: Claustrophobia
HPI: Arrested after beating girlfriend with a wooden table leg. Put in jail cell. Began shaking uncontrollably, flopped about on the floor of jail cell, and screamed repeatedly that the cell was closing in on him and he has terrible fear of enclosed spaces.
PE: Wiry multiply tattooed patient sitting in room with two deputies laughing and jawing about football game on TV. Vital signs normal. Physical exam normal.
Mentioned to patient that he was in an enclosed room in the emergency department (door closed for patient privacy, of course) and was having no symptoms, so claustrophobia did not appear to be the cause of his underlying maladies. Deputies began laughing at him. Patient let loose with string of obscenities and said he was able to control his fears when he was with other people.
Diagnosis: Aggravated domestic battery with acute onset of jailhouse blues.
Plan: 5-12 years in the Greybar Motel. No, you’re not getting a doctor’s note saying that you don’t have to go to jail and you’re not getting a Xanax prescription, either. I can write on the discharge papers for you to be kept away from wooden table legs if you’d like.
We may be forced to give a couple of days off of work for questionable reasons to keep the patient satisfaction scores up, but a note for 5+ years off of jail just ain’t happening.
Have a nice evening and a pleasant decade.
This and all posts about patients may be fictional, may be my experiences, may be submitted by readers for publication here, or may be any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate. If you would like to have a patient story published on WhiteCoat’s Call Room, please e-mail me.