Wednesday 12 December 2012


Are you sitting down? I hope so, because this post might surprise you.

I made a mistake.

Yeah, yeah I know, it happens.  Just breathe.  Deep, cleansing breaths.  Are you breathing now?  Good.  No, this is not the first mistake I've ever made (just ask my wife).  Now I don't usually like being wrong, because being wrong usually makes me look bad, and I don't like looking bad.  But sometimes things just work out so that even though I'm wrong, the guy who is right looks bad.  I guess that doesn't make much sense, but I guarantee you it will by the end of this.

A fine gentleman was brought to my trauma bay having been involved in a rollover motor vehicle accident.  And by "fine gentlemen" I mean he was shabbily-dressed, cursing like a sailor, and reeking of alcohol.  The medic informed me that the guy had admitted to drinking, and this set the patient off on a frenzy.

"I never said that!  That guy's a fucking liar!  Where are you, you fucking liar!  Get over here!  FUCKING LIAR!"

I almost had to restrain him from jumping off the gurney and attacking the medic, who understandably left in a hurry.  On my initial assessment, he definitely smelled strongly of alcohol, and he was certainly acting like just another drunk driver.  He continued acting belligerent and obnoxious, so I tried calming him by talking to him the way I talk to my children - soft tones and a calm voice.  I very calmly and politely informed him that we could do this the easy way or the hard way - the easy way was for him to act like a nice boy and cooperate. The hard way what for me to chemically sedate him and do my workup without him interfering.


Really?  This is his response to politeness and good manners?  After a few more calming words, he finally relented and started acting almost like a human being, though he continued to threaten the medic who was long gone.  Still, despite how he was acting (and how he smelled), throughout his workup he vehemently insisted he was not drunk.  He had a small laceration on his head and a concussion, so I got a CT scan of his brain.  Fortunately he was ok and it was negative.  But that wasn't the only thing that was negative -

His blood alcohol level was 0.

Astounded, I made sure the lab hadn't mixed up his sample. was 0.  I closed his laceration with a few sutures and sent him on his merry way.  Even though I had been nothing but polite to him, he continued cursing at me and my staff until he was out the door.

After he left, I sat and wondered why he smelled of alcohol.  Maybe someone spilled a drink on him?  Maybe he uses bourbon as aftershave?  Regardless, I couldn't believe he had actually been telling the truth.  Yes, he was right and I was wrong.  But that could mean only one thing - the reason he was acting like an asshole isn't because he was was simply because he's an asshole.


  1. Hypoglycemic? Just an ass? Was drunk most of the time lately and hadn't bathed the stink off?

  2. DKA is fruity; different than alcohol.

  3. maybe he had a bottle/ bottles in the car and they shattered in the crash and soaked him? it's almost christmas and high quality booze is a common gift.

    as for the outrageous behaviour, i guess he just really is an asshole. or he was in shock.

  4. So the medic lied...well that's unprofessional.

    1. Seems that way, Adrian. I don't understand why the medic would lie though. I'm sure they bring in drunk crash victims all the time that lie about being drunk, so why lie and say that this guy admitted to it? Maybe it was just to piss him off. I don't know.

  5. maybe he acted like an asshole because he had been accused of being drunk when in actual fact he wasn't. After all, he had just been involved in a serious car accident which most likely would have involved the police. A label of being a drunk driver is difficult to shake off, and could have serious repercussions for work/insurance etc...

    Maybe the medic should have apologised.. i'm sure the patient would have soon recognised the medic's error and accepted that even medics are human and make mistakes...


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