I’ve never been the doctor who yells.  However, if you work in medicine, you’ve met him or her.  I’ll call this physician "Dr. Barkus Yellby."  Dr. Yellby is angry.  A lot.  In the old days (and not so old days), he threw instruments in the OR when they weren’t what he wanted.  Or if the charts and labs weren’t ready for rounds, he slammed things on the desk and berated ...

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I recently took care of a woman in her 50s that came to our emergency department (ED) complaining of chest pain. The pain had started shortly before arriving in the ED but within minutes, we performed a battery of tests, treated her pain, and gave her an aspirin. Still concerned about heart disease being the cause of her pain, I observed her overnight in our EDs observation unit and completed ...

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I’ve noticed, as I get older life seems to travel full circle no matter your path or destination.  I find myself trying to teach my son Grant things that my father attempted to teach me not so long ago. “Don’t do that, you’ll fall and hurt yourself, or try it this way, and the process will be much easier.” There is that brief moment of acknowledgment often followed by scraped knees or ...

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My first confession is that I don’t really care to what extent a female emergency physician decides to embrace her femininity on the job. And yet, a new generation of female physicians is reshaping perceptions of our profession: what it takes to succeed, and therefore what sorts of skills, temperaments, and character types belong in our field. There is the nascent #ILookLikeaSurgeon campaign that started on Twitter and grew to its ...

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The following is paraphrased documentation, authored by a physician I know, regarding an intoxicated patient in the ER: 1 a.m.: Patient is telling nurse, “Before I leave, I need everyone’s name for my lawsuit. Tell the phlebotomist that if he’s good, he’ll get a cut.” 1:40 a.m.: Patient is making inappropriate sexual comments and is verbally aggressive with medical staff. He is advised to stay in bed. 2:02 a.m.: Patient (who had been sleeping comfortably) wakes up and ...

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Many young physicians in training have asked me, quietly or by e-mail, "Is it possible to be a Christian and practice emergency medicine?"  I think that they ask a good question, and likely for good reasons. In their rotations, they have witnessed, first hand, life in the ER.  They are uncertain, perhaps, because they see the frustration that boils over in the words and actions of otherwise compassionate and caring doctors ...

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I don’t know about you, but I’m up to my eyeballs in patient experience focus, metrics, and nomenclature. Of course, we all get it and are committed to taking great care of our patients, but, with all due respect, what about us? The caregivers, the clinicians, the physicians. Does anyone care about our experience? I do. In fact, it’s pretty much what I spend most of my waking hours thinking about. ...

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It's the beginning of October, it's Sunday, and it's been an uneventful shift thus far. However, in exactly seventy minutes, a patient that I've just seen -- one that I think has nothing more than an upset stomach -- will collapse and begin a fight for her life. I'm at the nursing station scribbling on a chart when a lanky man leans over me, a toddler in his arms. He's looking at the ...

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These seem unrelated, but give me a chance. I was eating outside at a restaurant with my 5 month old, Max, and a car with a modified muffler hit the gas right in front of us. In Australia, you'd call the driver a "hoon." The noise terrified my boy, and I felt something I'm not used to: protective rage. When Max stopped crying my mind went to struggling families, kids, ...

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It was 2 a.m. on a typically hectic Friday overnight shift in the emergency department. A young woman, Kelly, checked into triage, accompanied by her older boyfriend Jim, who explained that Kelly had abdominal pain and some vaginal bleeding. Jim wanted her checked out and maybe some pain medicine to help her rest at home. Kelly had no identification. She appeared younger than her stated age of 18. I also noticed track marks ...

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