A curse

Today we were in a taxi driving away from the hospital. As we approached a small bridge, the driver abruptly stopped, backed-up and pulled off the road. He had seen a rat pass the bridge in front of him and was afraid to continue. Directly proceeding would bring bad luck.

In order to overcome the curse, we had to wait for others to cross. Lisa and I sat in the backseat, giggling to ourselves as motorcyclists slowly passed.

Eventually, we restarted our journey. Approximately two minutes later, a man driving a motorcycle tried to pass us on the right. He lost control and hit the side of our car with the handlebars. His mother, who was his passenger, was launched into the air as they hit a divot in the road. I watched her land on her unprotected head and then go limp.

I yelled for the cab driver to stop and ran back. She was lying in the street on her back, now writhing in pain. I stabilized he neck and tried to speak with her. Moments later, a crowd gathered and people were pulling at her arms to have her sit up. One woman tried to break my grasp of the patients head. I tried multiple times to explain I was a doctor and was qualified to be in charge, but the mob mentality progressed. I soon lost my cool and shouted at the top of my lungs, “if you do not start listening to me I am going to get extremely upset”. People shut-up and started helping.

As we arranged for a transport vehicle to take her to the hospital, I quickly examined her and found a large irregularity on her right parietal region (her skull may have been crushed in). I was very concerned.

Moments later, a driver of a delivery van volunteered to take us to the hospital. In unison, we picked her up while stabilizing her spine and placed her in the back to the van. Ten very bumpy minutes later, we arrived at the hospital door.

A resident doctor came to the bedside, saw her head and ran to get the supervising physician. A confident appearing doctor with graying hair approached the bed, said nothing, slapped my arms to release her head from stabilization and looked at the back of her head. He then asked the patient if she had pain. She mumbled, “yes, my head hurts”. He then flexed her neck, touching her chin to her chest and said “she needs a head CT but her neck is fine, no stabilization is necessary”. He did not examine her ears, mouth, chest, abdomen, extremities, back or do a neurologic exam.

I quickly grabbed her head to stabilize her spine and tried to question the doctor. He ignored me and walked off. I asked Lisa to take over with the patient and I chased after him. I firmly said “I think she needs a c-collar” and he replied “no”. Immediately, my heart rate jumped and I angered. I said in the calmest voice I could muster, “she is in significant pain from her head injury and we cannot properly evaluate her neck in this setting. In addition, the mechanism of injury has a significant chance of inflicting spinal trauma.”

I have never had a fellow physician look at me with such disdain. I challenged his authority, in his hospital, in front of his trainees and he seemed to be repulsed by my presence. He turned his back to me, told a nurse the patient could have a c-collar and walked off

We waited fifteen minutes for an ambulance to arrive in order to transport the patient to another facility. No doctor or nurse returned to the bedside.

As I left the hospital, I walked by the doctor’s station and said “I am sorry for being rude”. No response.

Oh well, the day must have been cursed.


One Response to “A curse”

  1. Francisco Acosta Says:

    Well, the glass half full is that you may saved the womens life by your reaction and making sure you required medical assistance. Great job buddy, you are still my hero! Curse or not!

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