He didn’t correct me when I addressed him as “Mr.,” only grimaced in his hospital gown like any other 80-year-old with abdominal pain. I knew he was intelligent when he began giving a history of present illness so precise I could transcribe it verbatim into my note, but it wasn’t until he described his pain as “epigastric” that I gleaned he had a medical background.
“Are you medical?”
“Yes, I’m a retired surgeon.”
This octogenarian’s entire career had been back in the day when surgeons were demigods, and his hospital experience had been calling the shots. Now he was lying on a stretcher completely at my mercy, waiting for me to order pain meds and give any inkling of news regarding lab and ultrasound results. He had never had surgery himself, but a workup revealing acute cholecystitis meant he would be going back to the OR on the other side of the knife. This time it was his turn to wait nervously in the ED for the surgeon to come see him.
For the full article, please visit Emergency Medicine News.
Sandra Scott Simons is an emergency physician. This article originally appeared in Emergency Medicine News.
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