Thursday, 12 August 2010

One of those days

When it rains, it pours.

Today, Dr Jr was leaving for work. After reversing about 1 metre out of my parking bay, my front suspension decided to snap, rendering the car undriveable. I would suspect that Juniortown's numerous potholes are to blame. It seems like most of my money from my first paypacket will go to repairs and I'm not due my first paycheck until the end of the month!

Once I arrived in hospital (late, of course), the day didn't improve much. I was bleeped almost immediately to come down and write a death certificate for one of my patients on CCU who sadly died last night. It was the first death certificate I have written in a professional capacity - the patient I had gotten to know a bit over the last few days or so. A lovely elderly lady with lung cancer had come in short of breath, with pulmonary and pericardial effusions. They were drained and she was on the mend, but unfortunately, last night, she passed away.

Luckily, I have enough hair to be able to pull some out.
Death is never something easy to deal with and my first patient death came on a day I was already up to the eyeballs in stress. What is most saddening is the fact she has lived a life and now it ends with me signing a piece of paper. To my professional life, that is all she became - some ink on a piece of paper. However, to her family, she was a mother and a member of a very close family. On a personal level, a bit of her will always remain in my mind. Rest in piece Mrs Patient.

Shortly afterwards, I got a very angry call from a consultant biochemist (I'm not entirely sure, are they actual doctors?). One of the patients who we'd just received from AAU had a blood test, which had come back with a potassium of 2.2 - potassium is a very essential salt in the blood, and values too high, or too low can cause cardiac arrythmias and eventually cardiac arrest if untreated. However, I had a loud, angry bollocking on the phone telling me how terrible I was and how terrible my care of the elderly team was for letting this potassium get this low. My pleas of "we've only just received this patient" were rudely shot down with "I've not finished, you will listen to me or I will blame the death squarely on you if she dies."

She was immediately treated and remains completely stable and well. It reminds me of my post from a few days ago about how important a good consultant is - I'm thankful to not be working for this dragon!

To finish the day, I had to walk home. One of my patients pointed out "someone is watering the plants tonight outside." I headed home shortly afterwards. Alas, in my haste to try and get to work in time, I didn't bring a coat or umbrella.

And when it rains, it pours.


Anonymous said...

Are dragons like that common in the NHS? And how do you deal with that kind of abuse? I heard of a similar story but it ended with the F1 crying and then leaving medicine :(


Dr Jr said...

No, luckily my experience is that very few are dragons. Contrary to popular belief, the most of them are really decent people, with an occasional gem.

I basically told the fella in no uncertain terms that I and my team were not responsible for this result. I have no problem with being shouted at - I *am* the F1, but have an issue if he starts blaming others on the team, when none of us are to blame.

And yes, F1 can be a tough year, but arguably it's the most difficult - if you can tough it out, you'll do fine!

Are you a doctor/student or an interested 3rd party B? :0

Anonymous said...

It's reassuring to hear you say that. I'd like to think I could handle the occassional 'shouty conversation' but I doubt I'd survive if it came from all angles.

I suppose I'm the latter, planning to apply to medicine this september. And ridiculously excited about it!


Dr Jr said...

Awesome, good luck with that! At the end of the day it's an awesome job. I caught myself thinking "Wow, I'm actually getting paid to do this!"

If you want any university application advice, you can always drop an email to "" and I can direct you. I don't check it very often mind, it's not my normal mail account as to keep anonymity for legal reasons.

Anonymous said...

Thank you :D I've still to get into uni, but just the thought of it makes me giddy like a school girl! and thank you for the contact details :)


Becca said...

Consultants in Biochemitry can be either from a medical background (usually called Consultant Chemical Pathologists) or from a scientific background (usually called Consultant Clinical Biochemists). Consultant Clinical Biochemists should usally have FRCPath, which is the same ultimate qualification as the medics, but obviously have never been a junior doctor on a ward before.

There are also Biomedical Scientists (who carry out most of the tests) and may also phone out urgent results.

As someone who works in lab I'd like to say I think this kind of behaviour is rare and way over the line.