While Muzak plays (think Kenny G covering John Mayer) and courteous expressions like “excuse me” and “thank you” are exchanged in hospital waiting rooms, behind the front desk, angry patients are firing curse words into the hallway like their mouths are assault rifles with an endless supply of ammunition. Nurses are being cussed out by patients who sound like characters in "Platoon." And medical professionals are dropping f-bombs. All of ...

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Today, I cleaned the laceration above your eye from where he punched you with a closed fist. As I was stitching up the gaping wound with two layers of sutures, I told you that the scar would fade into the line of your eyebrow. I helped you apply your foundation on your neck to cover the bruising from where he strangled you. I monitored you for any swelling of your ...

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How do you define yourself? How do you describe yourself? In the past, I have tried to avoid immediately categorizing myself by my profession. I always agreed with The Little Prince:

Grown-ups love figures … When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does ...

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On my first trauma shift as a fourth-year medical student, a young, disheveled man with blood-soaked pants hobbled into the emergency department. Wincing in pain, he offered me a bizarre history of being shot in the leg by a nail gun that went off after he dropped it on some stairs while helping a friend move. He lifted his right pant leg and removed the bloody, tattered bandana wrapped around ...

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“Sorry, excuse me, can I get through please?” I wiggled my way to the head of the bed. Quickly, I set up the necessary intubation tools as the patient arrives shortly thereafter. A frenzy ensues, tubes flying over the patient, people talking over each other. “Can you draw me up some RSI meds? Let’s get this guy intubated now. Sorry, but I need it quiet in here.” Tube placed, a wave ...

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"Ice! Ice! I need ice!" Paul yelled, rushing into a store. It was a skate shop. They looked at him like he was crazy. "Ice! Ice! I need ice!" he continued to yell. The store employees looked at Paul with a blank stare. They pointed to the restaurant next door and suggested that he try there to get ice. They had no idea what was going on. Paul's girlfriend had overdosed on heroin and ...

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Am I the only emergency physician who sometimes wonders who left me in charge of an ED? I should be confident in managing whatever comes through those ED doors after more than ten years of single-coverage night shifts, but each night I hear a little voice in my amygdala questioning whether tonight will be the night I won't be able to handle something. Sometimes I feel afraid of the unknown ...

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The emergency room is packed. I interject another question to further clarify when exactly Mrs. Smith’s chest pain started, cutting off a story about her daughter -- a tactic I would have found unthinkably rude only years before but has now become a necessary technique. After leaving the room, I try to put in orders, but the electronic medical record resets itself, I’m informed an X-ray won’t upload unless I ...

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Watching events unfold at United Airlines over the last few days have filled me with shock, awe, and horror.  As a result of this public relations disaster, their motto “flying the friendly skies” has turned into “not enough seating, prepare for a beating.” America stands as a beacon of freedom from oppression.  United Airlines was an iconic American company until last Sunday, with a responsibility to uphold the intent of ...

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As the civil war in Syria shows no signs of de-escalating, worrisome evidence points towards the deployment of chemical warfare with banned agents recently, resulting in almost a hundred deaths with more than a quarter of them children. Chlorine and Sarin gas are primarily being implicated. Here are ten facts to know about Sarin gas and how it works. 1. Historically, Sarin was used for bioterrorism by members of Aum Shinrikyo, ...

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