Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Garbage

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.

1 comment:

  1. The shredder bins at my facility are so big and heavy that it would take some effort to flip one upside down and dig around in it through it's narrow opening. You have to admit, it would have been pretty funny had your attending got his hand stuck in the opening and maintenance had to cut him out.