Humor

For content intended as humor

What I learned from a garbage can

My parents never yelled, let alone spanked. We always understood what was expected of us and feared failure rather than punishment. They expressed disappointment far more often than they showed anger. They often asked us to devise our own punishments. And, perhaps above all, they were masters of the object lesson.

Sampling error

I recently received an email from my employer, with a link and a request to fill out a short survey evaluating a new service available to our patients. I had a brief gap between patients, so I clicked and did the six questions. As I hit submit, it occurred to me that the survey seemed familiar. Hmmm. Looking back in my older emails, I found that I had received a similar request from the same group about 2 weeks earlier, with the same link. I contacted the person who had sent the second email.

On listening to the patient

Osler, often referred to as the Father of Modern Medicine famously said: "If you listen carefully to the patient, they will tell you the diagnosis.” He emphasized both the value of a careful history in medical diagnosis and the value of learning from one’s patients. Ask any practicing clinician and they will have anecdotes that illustrate how right he was. One stands out for me.

Put on your shoes

It was January and there were several inches of fresh snow on the ground and no shoveled path to the car. The temperature in the teens. I had an errand to run with a child who INSISTED on going barefoot.  The following brief conversation between a seriously sleep deprived post-call parent and an articulate three year old. 

“Do you want to put your shoes on yourself, or do you want help?”

"I don't NEED to wear shoes. My feet aren't cold."

"They will be. It's cold out."

"My feet aren't cold."

"Put your shoes on."

"No."

"Fine."

Refractory eczema

Eczema had been her only real health problem, but what a problem it had been. 

Smart phones. Stupid users.

The small balcony of our motel in Port Angeles afforded me a fine view. Sitting there, I enjoyed spectacular sunsets, a wide range of shore birds, and the ferries coming in and leaving from Victoria across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Left Upper Quadrant (LUQ) pain

The Grand Rounds presentation that week was in the form of a Clinical Pathological Conference (CPC), a medical tradition where a case is presented to an expert or panel of experts in front of an audience of clinicians. The presentation is usually done in the order the information became available during the patient’s hospital course and the experts ask questions, discuss what they think is going on and why, are given more data based on the questions they ask, and ultimately try to come to the diagnosis that was proved at surgery or autopsy.

Dear (Patient) John letter

This imaginary letter, penned after attending a Quality Initiative meeting, is fictional today, but I suspect something like it will appear in the near future and be sadly common within five years. I hope I have retired by that time, because it would be truly shameful to actually sign and send such a letter.


Dear (computer generated patient name),

I am writing to express my deepest regret that I can no longer serve as your PCP.  I will continue to provide you with all appropriate care during the next sixty days while you arrange an alternative provider.

Let there be bureacracy

“And God created the organization and gave it dominion over man.“

(attributed to Peter Townsend)


 

How long will it take?

Rudiger Dorbusch, a German economist who spent much of his career at MIT, famously said:

“Things always take longer to happen than you expect – but once they happen, events unfold more quickly than you’d ever have imagined.”


 

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