Archive for June 5th, 2012
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In 1980 or so, when I was just starting my EM career, I was working a morning shift when a man was brought in with left hip pain. He was about 60 years old, and said he had been drinking the night before, and fell, striking his left hip. He crawled back into bed, but when he still had pain and couldn’t walk the next morning, he called an ambulance and came to the ER.
He was placed in a bed in an open bay across from the nursing station. The side curtains were pulled, but the end curtain was left open. You could see his externally rotated left leg from the station. His name was Mr. Johnson.
About 30 minutes later, we got a call we would be getting a nursing home resident who had fallen from bed and had right hip pain. She was about 85 years old, and was brought in and placed in the bed next to Mr. Johnson. The curtain between them was pulled, but again not the front curtains. You could see her externally rotated right leg from the station. Coincidentally, her name was Mrs. Johnson.
Now, of course, we had to make sure no films got mixed up, etc (no PACS systems back then). I spoke with a primary physician who requested a specific orthopedist, who came in to see the patients (you can tell this was some time ago….). He joked about the common name and how he had gotten a “two-fer,” etc.
The orthopedist said he’d start with the woman. He pulled up a chair, asking her some questions, where she lived, how she had fallen, etc. About halfway through his history, the curtain between them was pulled back by Mr. Johnson, who said “Mom?” We all just about died, as did the orthopedist. The man lived in town; his mom did as well at a local SNF. Each had no idea the other was there until she started talking. We took their photo, and cut a “Johnson & Johnson” label from a band aid box and taped it to the cabinet at the nursing station, where it stayed for years.
With all the gore, tears, thanks, anger, etc, in >30 years of practice, this is still one of my favorite ER stories.
Rich Guess, MD, FACEP