* * Anonymous Doc

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rapid response this morning on one of my patients.

The son comes running out of the room.

"My father's turning blue."

And, sure enough, his oxygen saturation is way down, he's literally turning blue...

"What happened?"

"Nothing. I just gave him a piece of my cookie."

"Your father can't swallow."

"I just thought he'd want some cookie."

"He has a feeding tube."

"He seemed hungry."

"He has a feeding tube and can't swallow. He's choking on the cookie."

"Can't you fix it?"

"We're trying."

And so we're working to dislodge the cookie... and we're working, as the guy's father is literally turning blue...

The son's phone rings. He takes the call (!) and then turns to me.

"Yeah, I'm really sorry, but that was my ride. I have to go."

"Your father--"

"Yeah, I hope you can save him. But I really have to go before my ride leaves."

And he leaves.

We got his father stable again, fortunately, but, uh -- what????

Loyal readers will note this is not the first patient who couldn't swallow who's been fed food by family members. Hey, you know what? If your family member can't swallow, don't feed them anything. Better yet, don't feed them anything, period. I'm not saying the hospital food is awesome, but the hospital food is (hopefully) what they're supposed to be eating, with the right consistency, the right amount of salt, etc. Liquids-only, purees, whatever some doctor has said they need. Your cookie, not on the list. Ask a doctor first.


  1. Reading this reminds me of the equally hilarious (and less facepalm) "Day I Got Cookie" message thread on SomethingAwful

  2. Wow. At what point do you consider calling in the police for an attempted murder charge? I'm a novelist, so my mind tends to run wild, but if I witnessed this combination of irresponsible behavior and utter lack of remorse, I'd start to ask myself questions...

  3. This reminds me of a similar joke:

    A man's wife was in a coma. He visited her daily with no response until one day, he felt her hand grip his when her held it. Excited, he went and told the doctor. The doctor suggested giving her a kiss to see what happened.

    The guy did as instructed and came back. "Doctor! I kissed her and she smiled, but didn't wake up. What should I do?" The doctor suggested that the guy gently massage one of his wife's breasts.

    The guy did so. "Doctor! I did it and she moaned, but still didn't wake up. What should I do?" The doctor, pleased with the woman's responsiveness, suggested oral sex.

    The guy was dubious at first, but went back into his wife's room to do as bid. A few minutes later, alarms started blaring and a medical team rushed in, the man coming out with a sad look on his face. There was nothing that the team could do - his wife was gone. The doctor, showing obvious concern, approached the man for details. "You must be one hell of a lover, Mr. Jones... Mind if I ask what happened?"

    "Sure..." Mr. Jones replied. "I started oral sex like you suggested - my guess is that she choked to death."

  4. As if you could FIND a doctor to ask that question to! I was left to lay in bed with blood sugars over 400 for 3 days because the hospitalist was off for the weekend. And if anyone was covering for him, they sure wouldn't tell ME that!
    Finding a nurse might be better, if they weren't too busy with their record-keeping, or if they didn't tell you they weren't YOUR nurse.
    Maybe try asking the garbage-collector, except that he's going too fast pushing his cart down the hall for you to catch up with him.
    You can't just blame the family when there's no one who has the time to do a little educating, and answer a few questions, and maybe even be proactive about fixing a real problem BEFORE it turns into life and death!