24 April 2006

A New Champion!

In the Category of "Abuse of the 911 System"

A 36 year old female presented to the ED last night via 911 with a complaint of:

"I took off my earring and the backing got stuck inside the hole."

Ladies and Gentlemen, you just can't make this stuff up.


  1. Wow, how great! I once removed stitches at home because I didn't feel like going to the doctor's office. I can't imagine an earring back being stuck wouldn't just be handled at home. How fascinating.

  2. So, Doc, howdja handle it? Roll your eyes and send her packing? Call the surgeons? Yank it off and throw it in the Sharps container? Gently soak her head and tenderly peel off the jewel?

    What's your weirdest foreign body story?

  3. I scolded her for abusing the system, I plucked it out with a forceps, declined the inevitable request for narcotics (Doc, but it hurts!).

    My interaction with her lasted five minutes at most. I do take some small and petty consolation that since she came in with a trivial issue on a busy sunday night, she did have to wait two-plus hours to be seen (despite coming in via ambulance).

    I have also seen people come to the ER for a stye and a sunburn (no kidding).

    It's a pity the medics don't have the authority to say "no" to inappropriate transports.

  4. I guess I concentrated on the "in the ER for an earring catastrophe" portion of your story. I sort of forgot to be stunned by the ambulance transport thing, which is clearly more amazing. She somehow couldn't get herself to the hospital due to fleshy-ear pain. That's a stunning level of dependence right there. You should send a sympathy card to her husband.

  5. And for this I'm learning to start IVs, drill IOs, intubate, cardiovert, run a code, decompress a chest, and generally rapidly assess and treat a variety of emergency medical condtions.


  6. Don't dispair, PDX. There is still fun and glory to be had. It's just 5% of your job. 75% is routine stuff, and 20% is flagrant abuse, like the above.

    There was a study a few years back which very clearly described how indigent persons often use 911 as a "Medical Taxi" system. I can't recall the citation, alas.

  7. My favourite ED presentation (when I was an ED resident) was a guy who presented three times via ambulance in the same week. The first time was because he'd fractured his pinky finger. The second and third times were because the finger was still sore.

    Go figure.


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