When I was in residency, I probably sacrificed a tree or two photocopying patient documents. But sometimes it was easier to do that than to go find the chart every time I wanted to look at a patient's discharge summary from another hospital. When I was done with the document, I'd throw it in the shredder bin: these bins we had with a small hole to insert papers that had private patient information to be shredded.
At some point during my residency, we noticed that an important piece of a patient's paperwork had gone missing from the chart. I remembered that I had photocopied that document, so I knew there was an extra copy floating around. Unfortunately, I dropped the paper in the shredder bin the day before. I explained this to the attending and showed him what bin it was in.
"That sucks," he said. "We don't have a key to this bin."
He then flipped the bin upside-down, stuck his hand into the tiny hole, and started pulling the papers out one by one.
I had no idea you could do that! Doesn't seem very secure. Anyway, even though I had thrown my paper in the day before, it seemed like the papers he was pulling out were much older than that. I had a growing sick feeling in my stomach as I wondered if I was making my attending stick his hand into what was essentially a garbage and the paper wasn't even in there. That seemed like an offense worthy of disciplinary action, or at least major embarrassment.
Thank God, we found the paper.