* * Anonymous Doc

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I think I raped a patient last night.

Okay, that's an exaggeration-- maybe-- but to the patient, who knows.

Elderly man who spoke a language I'd never heard of (and virtually no English). Comes in, seems to have a fever, but we can't understand what he's trying to say. Finally we figure out what language and get the right interpreter on the phone. We think. But it doesn't seem to be going well.

We're trying to see if he's oriented. We ask him what year it is. The interpreter says he didn't really answer the question. That he just said something like, "I'm an old man." We ask if he knows where he is. The interpreter again says he said, "I'm an old man." Finally we figure out he's got chills and some other vague symptoms, some bleeding, possibly some urinary symptoms, it's not entirely clear.

The attending is getting frustrated with the pace of the translation, finally gives up and disconnects-- so we're just left with this guy who's fairly confused and definitely doesn't know what we're saying.

And the attending tells me we need to do a rectal exam. Tells me I should do a rectal exam. Tries to explain to the patient what's going to happen, but the patient pretty clearly isn't following and has no idea what we're saying we need to do.

I'm trying to go slowly and explain, with reasonably-appropriate hand gestures, what we need to do. The attending is looking around at the backlog of patients, clearly wants me to hurry up. Finally just tells me to do it. He yanks the patient's pants down, and tells me to do it.

So I do it.

And the patient just stares straight ahead, this look of shock on his face. As in, "what is going on here? what is happening to me?"

And I don't even really know how to say, "I'm sorry," or "This was important," or "You can pull your pants back up."

And the attending heads back to our alcoholic homeless patient, and I hear just the tail end of their conversation-- "You really want to know in the METRIC SYSTEM how much alcohol I drink? You think I know the METRIC SYSTEM?"

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