We often joke amongst ourselves about some of the nastier trauma patients who come in who were obviously up to no good. We get idiots who steal cars and crash them after fleeing from the police, morons who get into drug shootouts, and various and sundry other imbeciles. But to make ourselves feel better, we like to fantasise that the gang member who was shot in the abdomen was probably on his way back from delivering flowers to the senior home...the drunk driver was driving back from volunteering at the soup kitchen...you get the idea. Some people cross the line and take this joke a little too far. Others stomp on the line, spit on it, pee on it, and then cross so far over it that you can't even see it anymore.
If you've read through my blog, you've no doubt noticed that I can be brutally honest with my patients. This can sometimes come off as rude, though I don't mean it to be. I always do it in the context of education - telling a patient that what he did was stupid and could have injured himself or someone else. However, some doctors must have missed the "Bedside Manner" lecture in medical school. Take, for example, the anesthesiologist I worked with this evening. Please.
A 19-year old kid got into an "altercation" (as he put it) with another young man, so he pulled out a knife. You've heard the phrase "Don't bring a knife to a gunfight"? Well, this was "Don't bring a knife to a meat cleaver fight." That's right, the other guy pulled out a meat cleaver and then threw it at him, ninja-style. The blade struck him in the face and lacerated him down to his mandible. He was bleeding fairly extensively, and I needed to control the bleeding and repair the wound.
We wheeled him quickly down to the OR so I could fix his face, and the anesthesiologist looks at him and says to him, "So let me guess - you were on your way home from church, right? Haha!"
I was mortified. But it gets worse. After filling out some of his paperwork, he looks at the wound and says to the guy,
"So I guess the other guy had a bigger knife, huh?"
Yes, he actually said that to this guy who was bleeding from an 8cm laceration in his face.