Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lost in translation

This was my experience doing Pain Medicine:

A few more:

What the doctor says: "Can you point with one finger to where your pain is?"

What the patient hears: "Can you wave your hand around in a huge circle to tell me where your pain is?"

What the doctor says: "What is your pain level on a scale of 1 to 10?"

What the patient hears: "Can you review your pain level with every possible activity you can think of on a scale of 1 to 20."

What the doctor says: "What medications are you taking?"

What the patient hears: "Can you describe the color and size of no more than half of the pills you're taking?"

What the doctor says: "Do you have any other medical problems?"

What the patient hears: "Can you give me a detailed history of how all your other medical problems were diagnosed? And if you have any major medical problems, like diabetes, I don't need to know about those."


  1. "Can you do something about my constipation?"

  2. ^-- Point with one finger to where it hurts --^


  3. http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/7171051/establishing-the-agenda

  4. Had four sciatica/miagrane patients today....so dead on, it's not funny.

  5. My attending would get so frustrated, he'd say, "Point with one finger... and you can't move that finger!"

  6. I like the patients whose numeric scale of 1 to 10 includes "kind of ouch, you know, but sometimes not like when it's the other way." Or "a million."

  7. I think I'm having a PTSD flashback in response to your post.

  8. These are all SO TRUE. Working in an ER wears on your patience very quickly. My favorite would be when a patient is getting triaged:
    Nurse: "How would you rate your pain right now?"
    Patient (calmly): 10
    Nurse: "OK I can't write 10 because you're not crying."
    That seems to elicit shock, awe and confusion.

    Or, patient: "Well no I don't know my meds because my wife has the list. No, she doesn't know I'm here and she's probably not coming. You ought to call her."

  9. My triage days I learned really quick to ask the right quest. Instead of "why are you here tonight?" it was "what one event made you leave the comfort of home from your lay z boy to come here?"