Scary Patients


My Quora Answer to:
As a doctor, have you ever been in danger from your patient?

Yes. Just one.

I was working in the ER at Waupun Hospital when the EMT's brought in a patient from a local prison. Waupun, Wisconsin is home to three prisons and close to a few others. The local economy thrives off of kidnapping and caging people.

Before I entered the bay, my nurse pulled me aside and warned me not to get close to the patient. He explained that the prisoner had permanently disabled a nurse at another hospital by attacking her physically during her intake exam. It was the only time in my career when I saw and treated a patient without doing a physical exam.

NB: I always did physical exams even with my psych patients. In addition, a physician can learn a lot just by observation. In medspeech, we document this with “A, A, Ox3, in NAD” which is shorthand for Awake, Alert, Oriented to person, place, and time, and in No Acute Distress. With ambulatory patients we also observe gait and lower body strength but the prisoner was shackled to a gurney and I was NOT going to unchain him just to observe his gait. That's how scared I was.

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