Thursday, 10 May 2012

Bad things only happen to good people

Some people just have bad luck.  They're at the wrong place at the wrong time when they're hit by a bus.  But some people create their own bad luck and their own bad situation.  And sometimes just when it seems a patient's story can't get any worse, it does.

This past shift was another busy one, with 5 patients coming to me in the first 90 minutes of the day.  The first trauma alert came literally as I was walking in the door.  "Oh great," I said to myself.  "It's going to be one of those days."  Well it was one of those days for my next patient, too.

At one point I was told I would be getting three patients, all from the same car accident.  Two cars had impacted each other head on, and at least two of the patients had obvious fractures.  The driver of one car had a broken heel and a broken rib.  In the other car, the 23-year old woman who was driving had minor scrapes and lacerations.  Her passenger was a 29 year old guy who had just gotten out of the hospital after fracturing his right knee in a car accident.  As soon as he hit the door of the trauma room he was screaming in obvious agony.  Everything from the waist down hurt, and his right leg was bent very awkwardly.  We got X-rays of everything, and he had fractured his left femur, left knee, left tibia and fibula, and his right knee (just below his previous fracture) and his right tibia and fibula.


Bad, right?  Oh ho ho not so fast!  That's not even the bad part.  The difficult part was yet to come.  It turns out he's a former narcotics abuser and takes multiple medications for it.  He told me he had been clean for three years.  Unfortunately for him his tolerance to narcotics was at Elephant Level, so we had to give him megadoses that should have been enough to kill him.

Now it's bad, right?  What, not bad enough?  Yes, it gets worse.  His urine drug screen was positive for cocaine.  Clean for three years?  Hardly.

That has to be as bad as it gets!  No no, just wait.  It gets even worse.

The woman who was driving him was his girlfriend, who was also on medicine for narcotics abuse.  He failed to tell us about his wife, however, until she showed up at the hospital.  She was obviously worried sick about her beloved spouse...

...and 9 months pregnant.

They say bad things only happen to good people.  Trust me, they happen to bad people too.


  1. Ouch! That's got to be a bad day in anybody's book!

    For some reason I thought it was difficult to sustain a femoral fracture without tearing an artery and bleeding out. Popular myth perhaps.

    1. I've never heard that one. Most femoral fractures do bleed some, up to a liter or two. But it's nearly impossible to bleed to death unless it's an open fracture with a major arterial injury.

    2. but isn't the dangerous part of breaking the femur the risk getting an emboly from the bone marrow? i distantly remember something like that from the first aid course i took about two years ago. i could be wrong though, please enlighten me if i am.

    3. Fat emboli can be dangerous, but they are rare. Some orthopaedic surgeons don't believe the phenomenon exists.

  2. That's Karma working extra hard there ha ha.

    1. More like karma in overdrive with the gear shift ripped off


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