If you haven’t been threatened by a patient, you haven’t been working in an emergency department very long. It’s a common occurrence that shouldn’t be so common. You can read about “patients gone wild” on this blog almost every week – and those are just the incidences that make the news. Little threats come even more often than that.
Most of the time we just laugh the threats off.
One patient was a little more convincing than some of the others, though. It wasn’t just some idle threat. This overly intoxicated patient repeatedly yelled at the doc in a loud voice reminiscent of Yosemite Sam that “I’m going to kill you.” He would randomly spout out his intended modus operandi with such phrases as “I’m going to blow your head off” and “I’m going to slit your throat.” The doctor he threatened was a nervous type and the threats got to him. He talked about what a “lunatic” the patient was that day and he made sure the patient had plenty of Ativan and stayed sedated for the remainder of his shift. Eventually, the patient slept off his alcoholic rage and was sent home with his significant other.
The following day, Doctor Ativan returned for another day at work. About half way through the day, one of the male nurses started his afternoon shift.
Dr. Ativan was in a side room dictating. The nurse witnessed what occurred the day prior and decided that he was going to play a joke on the doctor. So he went to the end of that hall and said in a loud gruff voice “Where’s that Doctor Ativan? I’ve got a score to settle with him!”
“Where IS he? I know he’s working today…. Have YOU seen him?”
All of a sudden you could hear things falling on the floor in the dictation room. Dr. Ativan busts out of the room, runs into the wall across the hall, then starts running down the hallway in as much of a serpentine pattern [see below] as the walls would allow with his hands covering his head. He ran out the emergency exit, setting off the fire alarm, jumped in his truck, and sped away down the street. It took about five minutes to reach him on his cell phone and get him back to the department.
Good thing it was a slow afternoon.
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.