Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy



While working at the VA a while back, I went to go check on Mr. Gomez, a patient of ours who was an amputee. I wanted to clear up several inconsistencies in his chart.

As I walked over to his room, I noticed the nurses' board listed him in a different room number than listed on the computer. He wasn't in the first room I checked, so I peeked next door and saw him napping in his bed.

I walked over and expertly surveyed the scene. 67 year old crabby-looking Hispanic male, right leg amputated, multiple tattoos. Check.

Asking him my questions (Mr. Gomez, your chart says you lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks? Nope, I told the other doctor 20 pounds in 2 months... don't you guys ever listen?) I thought about how nice it was that medical students were around. When busy doctors don't have the time, we step in and fix the small stuff.

I started getting a little wierded out about how many things were wrong in his chart. 20 pounds in 2 months not 2 weeks, cholecystectomy in 2003 not 1995, Hepatitis B not C. Who the hell took down this information? A little cautious at this point, I phrased my next question delicately.

"Mr. Gomez, I see on your chart that they removed your leg at some point prior to this visit... can you be more specific about the date?"

His eyes went wide as he flung the sheet off his right leg, which had inexplicably been folded back underneath his butt and covered with the sheet. It laid there in all its non-amputated glory.

"I'm a damn DIABETIC! We're terrified about losing our limbs! Don't you ever do that again! Didn't you even ask who I was first? Don't you guys ever LISTEN? Damn doctors..."

As I backed slowly out of the room, apologizing profusely, I saw the real Mr. Gomez return to his bed (on crutches) from the restroom - back in the original room. I could still hear Fake Gomez complaining loudly to his roommate about us damn doctors†. I ran back to the lounge, tail between my legs.

The next day on rounds, he didn't recognize me and proceeded to retell the story to my attendings & residents, who all thought it was pretty hysterical. They promised Fake Gomez that they would track down the culprit and reprimand him severely. I got made fun of for days.

†I'd like to point out that he kept saying "uh-huh" every time I called him Mr. Gomez

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  1. Man, what’s with these posts about you getting down and hard on yourself lately? These things happen, that’s why we have so little responsibility as medical students and attendings to look over our backs in the coming years.

    I’d say most people make more dumb-assed mistakes then you. Take me for example. Once I talked to a patient pre-op as follows:
    “So, Mrs. Marshall, we’re here doing a biopsy for melanoma today?”
    “No, we’re removing a bunion. I had a melanoma 10 years ago, but it went away. Wait, should I be worried?”
    “Oh, sorry, I was thinking of another patient”

    Turns out I went in the wrong room and wasn’t talking to Mrs. Marshall, but someone else. Yikes! I’m sure neither of us will make the same mistake any time soon.

  2. Dooooouuuuuuchebaaaaaag!

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