I was asked a few days ago by Adrian to share a story of the dumbest doctor with whom I've had the displeasure of working. So I searched the deepest recesses of my brain, trying to unmask some of the horrid memories I've stashed away and tried valiantly to forget. These are the most frustratingly ridiculously maddeningly stupefyingly stupidly stupid...stupid...oh hell, I lost my stupid train of thought because of all the stupid memories of stupidity that just came flooding back.
Thanks, Adrian. I'll be in therapy for years because of this. I hope you're proud of yourself.
Unfortunately I couldn't think of one specific story that stood out from the rest, so I'll have to give you some of the highlights...er, lowlights.
1) An ER doc frantically called me for a patient with a "cold leg". This is a surgical emergency because it means blood supply to the limb has been cut off, so we have only hours until the muscle starts to die. I rushed to see the man and quickly examined his leg, only to find a normal pulse in his very warm foot (meaning his blood supply was just fine). After calming myself (to prevent myself from punching the ER doc in the face and demanding to know why he was such an idiot), I asked the patient a few questions, and within 30 seconds I had diagnosed him with shingles. SHINGLES! Why the hell does it take a surgeon to diagnose a simple viral infection? Oh right, because the ER doc never actually touched his leg. He just heard the patient say "My leg hurts", so he called me.
2) A different ER doc asked me to consult on a drunk patient who fell down and bonked his face (yes, "bonked" is the technical term). He had already had a full workup, including multiple unnecessary X-rays and CT scans (more than I would have done), and everything was normal. So...why the consult request if everything was normal? "I just wanted to know what to do with him," the ER doc said. Really? What exactly do you expect me to do with him? Is this DocBastard's Babysitting Service?
3) I was asked to see a patient in the ER who had fallen and had a pneumothorax (a "punctured lung"), for which the treatment is inserting a tube into the chest to allow the lung to reinflate. I entered the patient's room, only to find the ER doc preparing to insert the tube into his abdomen just over his liver, a full 15 cm (6 inches) lower than she should have been in the chest. I quickly stopped her and saved the patient from being stabbed in the liver and becoming a real trauma patient.
4) An ER doc asked me to see a patient with excruciating abdominal pain from a bowel obstruction, but the doc just couldn't figure out where it was coming from. It took me about 0.4 seconds to notice that the patient's scrotum was the size of a large grapefruit because a good portion of his intestine was in it due to his enormous hernia. I guess the ER doc just forgot to look there. Oops.
5) An ICU doc asked me to see a patient who was actively dying from a heart attack. Apparently the genius had ordered a CT scan of the chest and abdomen and had noticed gallstones, so he expected me to do something about them. While she was dying of a heart attack.
So which is your favourite? You know, after dealing with all this nonsense I think it's a minor miracle that I haven't bashed my head against the wall. Adrian, I'll be sure to send you the bill for my therapy sessions and antidepressants.