Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Part 2: The Dreaded Reflex Hammer Returns

A physical exam yesterday:

Me: "OK, I'm going to check your reflexes."

[I take out reflex hammer]

Patient: "Oh my god, are you going to hit me with that?"

Me: "Um... yes?"

Patient: "No, please don't."

Me: "It's just a tap."

Patient: "I don't like having my reflexes checked. It's just... ugh!"

Me: "Well, I guess I can tap you with my fingers. Would that be OK?"

Patient: [grudgingly] "I guess so."

Seriously, what's up with this fear of reflex hammers? Are my patients talking to each other?


  1. Did you mispronounce "reflex hammer" and say "cattle prod" by mistake?

  2. Hilarious. I actually am also afraid of the reflex hammer, embarrassing as that is to admit. I think it's just the creepiness of watching your limbs react without having actually done anything yourself. It's weird, and I do try my best to contain my horror, but it is what it is.

  3. So do we need to consider conscious sedation for reflex exams now?


  4. Why am I hearing Duran Duran in my head right now?

  5. I made patient cry yesterday... By taking her blood pressure. Seriously. She was yelling before I even got up to 30mmHg, and I never managed to get past 120mmHg because at that point she was screaming and crying and begging me to stop. Needless to say, I never got a blood pressure because I couldn't hear a thing over all the yelling.

  6. Patients can be so odd. I always take about five minutes just to get them to relax their legs.
    I, on the other hand, love having my reflexes tested. I have super-brisk patellar reflexes (apparently it's got something to do with my hypothyroidism? I dunno) and it tickles when I test them. It's fun, it's become a hobby. I gave myself bruises the other day from testing them so much. Oops.

  7. At the end of a miserable call night, I leaned over to flush the toilet and my reflex hammer jumped right out of my pocket into the toilet and disappeared. I was so stunned I just walked away. 2 years later (!), one of the nurses returned it to me, having come across it in the lost and found in the basement...why, oh, why did I have to write my name on the stupid thing???

  8. My reflex hammer has a long pin (for testing sensation)that screws into its tip. It could probably be used for a shiv.....I can understand being afraid of that :-), not reflex hammer itself.