Sunday, July 08, 2007

Patient Surprises

Patients never seem to amaze or shock me. Every time I think I have seen and heard it all -- and I admit I have few clinical experiences to draw upon compared to others -- a patient will come and stun me with his response.

Recently, I was in clinic interviewing a very drunk man who presented with a benign complaint. He reported that he had been experiencing this complaint for several months, so I naturally asked him why he waited so long to present. In very slurred speech he replied that he couldn't return to the state ... because of the federal warrant against him!

I have had many jail patients in the past, but at least they were in restraints because of their crimes. This patient, though, was apparently still on the loose for his deeds ... and I don't know much about the law, but I feel a federal warrant seems fairly serious.

So immediately I distanced myself a few inches from him and made sure to keep a clear path between me and the door. I tried to probe a little and get some details on his warrant, but he really couldn't stay awake long enough. Plus, I quickly deemed he was not much of a threat after all, given that he kept nearly falling off the exam table.

But still, despite the amusement afterwards, it was for a moment one of my more frightening patient encounters.

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