A family affair

As I entered the room, my eyes immediately focused on the bloody foot prints covering the entire floor. Not a square inch was spared.

I then made eye contact with a middle aged woman sitting on one of the two emergency room exam tables. She was missing the majority of her skin on her left foot, lower leg, hand and forearm. Everything was pink and oozing blood.

I was struck by her facial expression. She did not seem to be focused on her pain but seemed as though she was going to jump up and physically assault someone. She was pissed off.

On the other exam table sat a five year-old girl. The skin on the right side of her face had been peeled off and her lip and nose were markedly swollen. As a nurse scrubbed her wounds, she sat quietly, staring at the wall.

On a stool between both of them sat a man with abrasions on his left ankle, knee and arm. He sat with his elbows on his knees and his head between his hands. He shook his head and repeatedly said “oh, no, no, no”.

I watched the scene as the nurse and provider cleaned and dressed the wounds. As they were finishing up, I asked what happened. I was told the father was driving a motorcycle, going too fast, and lost control. When he crashed, his daughter and wife were thrown. The wife was now very upset with the husband.

As they finished the story, I heard the provider say “OK, the child is ready for discharge”.

I was surprised and asked “what are her vitals. It is very abnormal for a five year-old child to sit patiently as you scrub her fresh wounds”.

The response was interesting. “We didn’t take any vitals, doctor. But if you would like us to, we can do it”.

When the nurse put his stethoscope to the child’s chest his eyes widened in fear. Her pulse was 220 beats per minute! He nervously asked “what should I do?”

After a few hours and lots of fluids, the child was stable and her pulse normalized. The mother also calmed down and seemed to forgive the father. Despite the physical pain, they seemed happy to be alive and together.


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