Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Acronym FAIL

While the anti-synthetase syndrome is a serious disease, it really needs a better acronym. As this slide from an educational conference shows:

Thank you, E!

Monday, August 28, 2017


Annie: "Dr. Grumpy's office, this is Annie."

Mr. Clueless: "Hi, this is Sid Clueless. I saw the doctor last month, and he ordered a bunch of tests. I had them all done several weeks ago, but nobody has called me with the results."

Annie: "I'm sorry about that, sir, let me check your chart."

Mr. Clueless: "It's ridiculous that you didn't try to reach me. I've been waiting all this time, and my wife and I are both really worried."

Annie: "I understand... Sir, I'm not finding you anywhere in our system. When did you see Dr. Grumpy?"

Mr. Clueless: "On July 27, 2017."

Annie: "You're not on the schedule for that day. Maybe you saw a different doctor?"

Mr. Clueless: "No, I definitely saw Dr. Grumpy. I know your building. It's the one with an elevator."

Annie: "Sir, that describes pretty much every medical building out there."

Mr. Clueless: "It's the one on Central and 74th Street, by the Sam Gross Cartoon Museum."

Annie: "We're all the way across town from there."

Mr. Clueless: "Oh... Maybe I didn't see Dr. Grumpy then. Can you still give me my results?"

Annie: "We don't have access to other doctor's charts."

Mr. Clueless: "I thought they were all in the computers you guys use."

Annie: "No, it doesn't work like that, sir."

Mr. Clueless: "Can you at least tell me which doctor I saw?"

Annie: "We don't know that, either."

Mr. Clueless: "Crap. Now I have to wait until my wife gets back from the store."

Friday, August 25, 2017

August 25, 1950

The U.S.S. Benevolence was a full-sized hospital at sea. She had 802 beds, many operating rooms, and the most up-to-date X-ray and lab equipment upon her completion in May, 1945.

She sailed to the Pacific, serving in the closing months of World War II. The casualties of the island-hopping strategy were terrible, and she took care of many as the allies closed in on the Japanese home islands.

At the Japanese surrender she was anchored in Tokyo bay, hidden behind the American and British battleships. Although hospitals don't get the glory that fighting ships do, they're still an indispensable part of any naval force.

After the big ships were gone, the Benevolence got down to work. 1,520 allied prisoners-of-war were released to her care, with her crew nursing them back to health so they could go home. She stayed in Japan until late November, 1945, doing this vital work.

The next month she sailed for San Francisco, bringing those too wounded to leave their beds back to the U.S. for further care. She spent early 1946 running back-and-forth between there and Pearl Harbor, transporting more injured home as they were brought in.

Later that year the atomic bomb testing was planned for Bikini atoll, and the Benevolence was selected to provide medical care for the operation. She served in this capacity through the entire project, and was then sent to provide hospital services in Tsingtau, China, anchoring there in October, 1946.

In 1947 she returned home and went into reserve, but was recommissioned and modernized in 1950 to serve in the Korean war.

On August 25, 1950, she was running sea trials off San Francisco before being sent overseas. She was 4 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge, returning to harbor in a heavy fog.

A freighter, the S.S. Mary Luckenbach, was also blundering through the haze that afternoon, and just after 5:00 the two collided.

The Luckenbach was the less damaged, and anchored nearby to assess what had happened. Due to the fog her crew were initially unaware that the Benevolence was sinking rapidly, but as distress signals came in they manned their own lifeboats to go help. They saved 85 lives in the growing darkness.

The Benevolence was completely gone in just 15-20 minutes.

A makeshift rescue armada raced to the scene as night fell. Coast Guard ships, fishing boats, tugboats, pleasure craft, and merchant ships slowly moving through the murk, listening for voices, shining searchlights, and sending their own lifeboats back and forth to get swimmers. With the tide going out some survivors were miraculously found 12 miles west of the sinking, up to 6 hours later. One was floating on a wooden box of blood plasma.

As they returned to port almost every ambulance in the bay area was on the scene, taking them to hospitals and returning for more.

When it was all over 505 had survived and 23 were lost.

Both captains were faulted for excessive speed in the fog. The new radar technology on the Benevolence had somehow not seen the Luckenbach, and the Luckenbach's own set was malfunctioning and was turned off at the time.

When the sun came up and the fog cleared the next morning, the ocean off Golden Gate had an eerie sight: The 71 foot-wide Benevolence, lying on her side in 75 feet of water, with her red cross insignia clearly visible beneath the waves.

The navy surveyed the wreck for several months before deciding she was beyond salvage. She couldn't be left in the center of a busy shipping lane indefinitely, either.

In late 1951 the Benevolence was completely destroyed in a series of 3 controlled explosions to clear the area.

To this day she remains sadly forgotten, with no memorial to remember those lost that afternoon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


“Train wreck,” for the uninitiated, is medical slang for a patient with EVERYTHING wrong.

Example: “Mr. Smith in the ICU, room 17, is a train wreck. He has metastatic cancer and advanced renal disease. He was getting dialysis yesterday when he suffered a heart attack and then went into respiratory failure. He’s on a ventilator now, and has developed sepsis.”


One day back in residency we were doing our usual morning rounds, presenting cases to the attending. My friend Zack was telling him about a guy he'd admitted the previous night.

Zack: “Okay, the next one, in ICU room 7, is a train wreck. He…”

Dr. Proper: “NEVER SAY THINGS LIKE THAT! Patients are people, and I don’t want to hear slang! Present the case to me in medical terms."

Zack: “I'm sorry, but I mean…"

Dr. Proper: “STOP! Let’s try this again. Why is the man in room 7 in the hospital?”

Zack: “Um, he was driving his car and was hit by a train."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Seen in a chart

As opposed to?

That's all the line said about it, folks. I didn't cut anything out.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

My readers write

A 2nd year internal medicine resident sent this in:

I was doing night admissions, and one was an elderly lady who'd come in for a hip fracture. The ER doctor told me the ortho surgery resident had already seen her, but there was nothing in the chart to tell me what the plans were.
So I called the ortho resident to touch base.

Dr. Dudebro: "Ortho, returning a page."

Me: "Hey, I'm the medicine resident admitting Mrs. Hip. You evaluated her in ER a few minutes ago?"

Dr. Dudebro: "Oh yeah, with a broken hip! What's up?"

Me: "What's the plan for her?"

Dr. Dudebro: "Uh...she needs surgery."

Me: "Right, but what's your plan? When are you planning to take her?"

Dr. Dudebro: "Uh...I don't know. She needs surgery."

Me: "Okay, but she's on Coumadin and is therapeutic. Are you taking her to OR tonight, and I need to reverse her ASAP? Or is this less urgent, and I can just give her vitamin K and manage her pain until you're ready for her?"

Dr. Dudebro: "Uh...she needs surgery."

Me: "Never mind. I'll figure it out."

- Thank you, R!

And for those of you who remember:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Summer fun

I'm at work.

Mrs. Grumpy is out of town with the twins.

Frank is at home alone. He's 17, so should be able to survive for a few hours on his own, right?

Then, while I'm with a patient, this text from him shows up:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Breaking news!

From around the world, Dr. Grumpy's reporters bring you the stories that shape our lives.

DATELINE: Durango.

A bear broke into a parked Suburu SUV and took it for an early-morning spin.

The unidentified ursid, who's still on the loose, smashed a window and climbed in. From there it released the parking brake and went rolling down the street.

During its brief ride the bear drove over some utility boxes before finally going into a yard and hitting a mailbox. The homeowner, Mr. Ron Cornelius, was woken by the noise and called police. When asked about the early hour, Mr. Cornelius said "Usually, I don’t get up at 5 o’clock unless there is a bear driving a car down the street."

Apparently unhappy about its short ride, the bear destroyed the interior of the vehicle. It pulled the steering wheel off the shaft, ripped the radio out, and broke the back window.

Originally it was thought to have been the work of human vandals, but the bear's involvement was confirmed by the extensive degree of damage wrought and, more importantly, a large pile of bear shit that had been left inside the car.

So there you have it: Bears do shit in the woods, but in a pinch will use a Subaru.

DATELINE: Olympia.

A traffic jam was caused by a dead body rolling down the street.

Police said an ambulance transporting a dead body had its back door open while moving. Two gurneys, one with a recently deceased occupant, fell out and went speeding down the street.

The driver, unaware of this turn of events, continued on his way.

The gurney with a body stopped in an intersection, forcing police to re-route traffic through the area until coroner's staff could arrive to take the escapee into custody.

The empty gurney was found in a parking lot.

Neither gurney, nor the deceased, was damaged during the joyride.

DATELINE: Sioux City.

Police were called when a man attempted to deposit a fake $1 million dollar bill into his bank account.

Upon arriving to the bank, police officers interviewing the fellow asked if he had any more of the million dollar bills on him, whereupon he pulled a bag of methamphetamine out of his pocket.

Somewhat comically, he's being held on a $1,000 bond.

Police suspect drugs were involved.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"It's for the neurologist. You know how he can be."

A nurse writes that, when she arrived to work yesterday, this was the state of the galley fridge at her ICU:

Thank you, J!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Annie's desk

Annie: "Dr. Grumpy's office, this is Annie."

Lisa: "Hi, this, is Lisa, referral person for Deathtrap HMO."

Annie: "Hello."

Lisa: "Dr. Grumpy referred Mr. Axon to Dr. Needlemeister for an EMG? I thought Dr. Grumpy does these himself."

Annie: "He does, but Mr. Axon has a number of issues that make the test more complicated. So Dr. Grumpy prefers that an EMG specialist do it in this case."

Lisa: "Okay, but if Dr. Grumpy has another doctor do it, I want to make it clear that we will not pay Dr. Grumpy for the test. We'll pay that doctor instead."

Annie: "Of course. We wouldn't expect you to pay us for it."

Lisa: "You people are so weird."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Covering all the bases

Seen in a chart:

Thank you, C!
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