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A bloke down the pub

Image by aeu04117 on Flickr

It must be something in the air at this time of year. One of my recent shifts was like a groundhog day. It consisted almost entirely of patients who had either vomiting or diarrhoea or vomiting and diarrhoea. These were all otherwise healthy young people; all had a pair of legs in good working order – perfect for walking to the ambulance with. None had had their symptoms for more than about 6 hours and none had considered contacting their GP before calling an ambulance.

Excuses for not contacting the GP were various and included; “I don’t like my GP” (well change your GP then!). “He’d have just sent me to A&E” (most unlikely). “I can’t get to the GP because I have to work from 12.00- 18.00hrs” (Well perhaps you could have gone in the morning). “I couldn’t go to the GP because I can’t walk” (see comment above about patients all being in possession of a pair of fully functioning legs) and my personal favourite “Well I had this once before 5 years ago and now it’s happened again, so I think I should have it checked out properly.”

Similarly, I did a shift in a hospital recently where I saw three patients with minor head injuries. None had been knocked out or had any visible laceration, bump or bruise (well apart from one who had a rapidly fading slightly pinkish patch where where his head knocked on the frame of some gym equipment that he had carelessly walked in to). None had vomited or even felt a bit sick; there were no visual problems, convulsions, loss of memory or co-ordination, headache – no anything in fact between the lot of them. (This list comprises of some of the things that we may worry about in head injuries – see NICE guidance on Head Injury if you want to find out more).

One guy even told me that he had actually bumped his head a whole week before and although he had no symptoms whatsoever, then or now, he decided to come to hospital simply because a bloke down the pub told him he should definitely get a check up and probably needed an X-ray – that ‘bloke down the pub’ has a lot to answer for in my mind – I have seen an awful lot of patients who pitched up following his expert medical advice now I think about it! Forget ‘Street Doctor’ let’s have a TV series called ‘The Bloke Down the Pub who is not a Doctor’ – because that guy really knows what he is talking about – NOT!

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