* * Anonymous Doc

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here's a story:

Patient is brought in by the cops, barely able to stand up by himself, completely drunk. Blood alcohol level is almost 300. [80 is legal limit for drunk driving in most states.] Why we have to babysit drunks who don't actually have a medical problem we can treat is the larger question, but anyway...

We keep him overnight, next morning he's belligerent but doesn't seem drunk anymore. We're trying to discharge him. He doesn't want to be here anymore. We don't want him here. We're getting the papers together. We tell him it'll be an hour. He calms down.

An hour later, my intern goes to deal with the discharge. Comes back and tells me he doesn't seem right. Slurring his speech, can't sit up straight, etc.

I go and check on him. Yeah, he seems drunk again. We run his blood alcohol level again, and it's actually higher than when he came in, pushing 350.

We call hospital police to search his room. What did he sneak in here, and how?

They find nothing.

So we're baffled. My intern asks if something else might be going on, and I don't really have an answer. I don't know.

By habit, I squirt some sanitizing foam on my hands as I leave his room...

There's no foam in the dispenser.

It takes me a second.

No, can't be.

We look, shoved behind the door, the squeezed-dry, empty bag of hand sanitizer.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

He drank a bag of hand sanitizer.



  1. You know you might have a drinking problem when...

  2. You actually sent me to Snopes here, congratulations. (They said it's like 70% alcohol, though some of it is isopropyl alcohol, and tastes like "slightly flowery vodka.")

  3. I have a friend that's an elementary school teacher and found one of her students intoxicated from the same thing. Didn't take much for him to get plastered during recess.

    I like your blog...good writing.

  4. doesn't non-liquor (I suppose isopropyl) alcohol poison you?

  5. @Mirmir: Regular alcohol is a poison too!!! You just need to drink more of it to be dead.