When I was a PGY2 resident, I was starting a new rotation on a brain injury. At the end of my second week, I was rounding on my brain injury patients, and there was one patient admitted the day before that I couldn’t find. I looked all over the ward for him and he was nowhere.
Sometimes patients went outside to this gated garden that attached to the unit, so I checked out there for my patient. Sure enough, I saw him sitting on a bench in the middle of the garden.
I went outside and sat down next to him. “Hi,” I said.
“Hi, Dr. Fizzy,” he said pleasantly.
“Um,” I said, “how are you doing?”
“Okay,” he said. “How are you?”
“Okay,” I said. I was beginning to find this interaction a little weird somehow. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”
Now the patient was giving me a really odd look. “Yes…”
At this point, I was going to get out my stethoscope and listen to his chest, but something was telling me I shouldn’t. So instead, I got up and went back inside.
About half an hour later, my patient knocked on the door to the resident office. I went out to see him and it was at that point, I noticed his ID badge. He wasn’t my patient at all. He was actually one of the case managers on the unit. In my defense, I didn’t know him very well, he was dressed casually, and he really sort of looked like my patient.
He asked me what was up with that interaction we had, and I made something up that was probably not believable, but way less mortifying than the truth.
All I can say is thank god I didn’t try to listen to his chest with my stethoscope.