On the other hand, other people's priorities are...hm, how shall I put this? Ah I got it - fucked.
When my pager told me at 2AM that I had a trauma victim in the trauma bay "NOW", that told me one of two things: either the patient was driven to the emergency room in a private vehicle, or the triage nurse determined that a patient who just arrived needed to be seen more acutely by me rather than waiting to be seen by the emergency room staff, and that the patient was "upgraded" to a trauma. While those "NOW" traumas are usually a big heaping, steaming pile of bovine feces, my pager also said "gunshot wound", so my heart started beating a little faster, and I rushed down to see what was going on.
What greeted me was a man who looked less traumatised than I did after I stubbed my toe earlier that day. He was standing up, taking off his clothes, and laughing with the staff. I, on the other hand, was not amused.
A big steaming pile of...
I looked around for the medics, but finding none, I asked the nurse what had happened. Apparently the patient had driven himself to the hospital (well that explains that), because he had gotten shot in the back. Yesterday.
Yes, you read that right. Yesterday.
He had no symptoms except for mild stinging at the gunshot site just to the right of the middle of his back. He had no neurological symptoms, no abdominal pain, no shortness of breath, no chest pain, no bloody urine, nothing at all that signified that he was remotely injured except for the tiny hole in his back which wasn't even bleeding. I've had hangnails which looked worse.
I looked at him and the nurses incredulously, looking for some reason why some super-smart rocket scientist thought this patient needed to be upgraded to a trauma, especially at 2AM when I'd much rather have been either sleeping or dealing with a real trauma. But then I had another thought - why in the name of Phineas Gage had he not sought medical attention, oh I don't know, right when he was shot? So I did the only logical thing - I asked him.
"Well, I didn't think much of it yesterday," he replied calmly. "But I had a wedding to go to today, so I thought I should get checked out."
I was speechless. He could have said he was afraid of questions by the police. He could have said he felt fine. He could have used any number of 1000 decent (though bullshit) excuses. But of all the bullshit excuses he could have given me, he chose that one?
I turned around and walked out. Halfway up the stairs, my pager went off again. This time it was a forklift accident - real trauma.
Sigh. I turned around and headed back in. My bed would have to wait.