Acting Out

I've always considered rounding on the hospital floors to be one of the most unnatural of human interactions. The emergency medicine version -- signout -- is a far more efficient and humane process, where the new doctors coming on shift meet the patients, get a blurb about their history and workup, and learn what's pending before discharge or admission.

But, just like rounds can be a source of occasional amusement, so too can signout. The other day, a colleague was signing out a patient as follows:

"This 31 year old man was ped-struck at last night. Positive LOC according to EMS, EtOH on board, good vitals, A and O times three since arrival here. His head CT and C-Spine were negative."

"How about pain? wounds?" the receiving resident asked.

"Pain's under control, no lacs. He's got abrasions on his right ear and temple." Then she tapped her temple, for emphasis. Her expression was one of concentration -- she was recalling the man's initial presentation in the trauma room.

"His right elbow, too." As was said this, she clasped her right elbow. I looked over at my senior, who was starting to smile.

"Also a big abrasion across his abdomen," she continued, as she rubbed her belly. "And bilateral knees" -- at which point she bent down and grapsed her knees.

When the resident straightened herself up, she saw our team stiffling the giggles.

"Hey!" she offered, in good-natured protest. "It helps me remember..."

The attending started singing, Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, and we merrily made our way to the next patient...