Monday, February 6, 2012

The President

Usually as part of a mental status exam, I ask patients who the President of the country is. If they don't know that, it's pretty bad. It's kind of annoying when a patient refuses to answer on account of not liking the President.

This was my favorite response to that question:

"An asshole."
--Said in 2005. I'll let you figure out who was President at that time.

My second favorite response:

"I'm from Canada."

A guy I worked with said that his two favorite answers were Ringo Starr and Bob Newhart. Not simultaneously, of course.


  1. My grandfather (with a dementia diagnosis) recently answered that one with "Oh, don't tell me it's Newt Gingrich! That would be awful!" (no offense to any Newt fans!)

  2. haha!! (asshole) Reminds me of a stroke pt. I had right around the date of 9/11 (not the actual day of 9/11, it was years after). Asked the patient "do you know where you are?" she was oriented to self and place, but was a little unsure of the exact date. I went on to reorient the patient and tell her it is 9/11. She said "oh y yes! I remember that horrible day, all those poor people in those buildings.. I was at the hair salon.." and she gave me all the details about what she was doing that day. So I continued the conversation with her and said, "Yes, 9/11 is one of those days where everyone knows exactly what the were doing at the time it happened. Just like the day JFK was assassinated.." To which she responded, "OH MY GOD JFK WAS ASSASSINATED?!?!?!" Good times, good times..

  3. My father was taken to the ER last month, and I got to observe the orientation check. He had the place, time, and date well within what I'd consider tolerances. ("It's something like the 10th of the month," on the 11th seems fine to me.) Then the doctor asked him who the president was.

    He hemmed and hawwed for a bit, trying to figure out the answer, then finally looked around and said, "It's not Nixon, right?"

    I think he's a bit more impaired than I'd been aware.

  4. Recent answers from my stroke patients:
    1) Osama bin Laden
    2) Barack Hussein Obama (unprompted)

    Most common (again, post-stroke population):
    Patient: "Obama."
    PGYx: "What's his first name?"
    Patient: "..."

  5. I used to ask the vice president but absolutely nobody knew that one.

  6. The best was when I had a patient who was in a hypertensive crisis, and kept PANICKING at the thought of being in a hospital in the middle of the city because it was so unsafe.

    ...and then I asked him if he knew where he was. His response "ya, in London England." (we were in Toronto). I asked him the date, and he responded "1940".

    Suddenly, it all made sense why he was terrified to be in the middle of the city!

    (it didn't help either that I am blonde, and he then proceeded to being terrified of me, thinking that I was a Nazi).

    Good times.

    Oh, and to Metcalf up there: VAST majority of Canadians know who the president of the US is... we just don't care and like to point it out when people ask us, or assume that we are American.

  7. Wannabe_NP: That's a pretty funny story :)
    And for the record, that guy may have been Canadian but he was living in the US, so I think it was a fair question.

  8. I once worked with an attending who had a habit of asking patients who their state senators were, even if the patient couldn't name the president! Not once did anyone know the answer but that never deterred him.

    I think my favorite response to the president question was, "it's Jamal, that guy with the short hair."

  9. Best response was during the Bush years. Elderly demented woman answered, "George..." and we thought she was going to nail one. Then she finishes, "Washington."