The Ward Rounds Stitch-up

By Lorin McIntosh 

Still jet-lagged from my summer trip, I woke up at 7:30, instead of 6:30am. After a frantic morning routine, I make it to the hospital with ten minutes to spare. I have left my phone at home, had no breakfast or coffee, but I am determined to make it the best day.

 

As I walked through the white washed halls, a feeling of fear mixed with excitement sweeps through my veins. It is my first day of medical internship. I have been placed at Eastern Health, my top choice from my clinical years, and am beyond stoked to start my first day as a real doctor. After I arrive at my ward, I introduce myself to the team and begin to print off the lists. Just as I am finished stapling the lists (perfectly in the top left hand corner as my consultant has requested), another intern arrives. I do not remember seeing a fellow intern on the roster, but I am beyond excited when I realise that it is one of my medical school friends. We begin the ward round, just as the third-year medical students arrive.

 

Patient 1: Abdominal pain

As we begin to see the first patient, my consultant decides to ask me the anatomical landmark of the duodenojejunal junction. In a moment of fear and sheer panic, I do not remember my preclinical anatomical landmarks, and take a guess. The third year medical student then answers “the ligament of Treitz”. He then asks me to perform the DRE on the ward round, a sinister form of punishment for my incorrect answer.

 

Patient 2: Chest pain

As I am still trying to finish my note from the previous patient, we then see a patient presenting with central chest pain, radiating to the jaw and right shoulder, lasting for 20 minutes. The other intern orders troponins and I begin the process to take blood. As I am about to take the bloods, a clinical nurse educator walks into the doorway with a clipboard. I take the literal best bloods of my life and am beyond proud of my venepuncture win. The lady with the clipboard then announces that she is doing a hand wash audit for the hospital, and I have forgotten to wash my hands before putting on my blue nitrile gloves.

 

Patient 3: New onset neurological symptoms

My consultant is busy teaching the third year medical students about STEMIs versus NSTEMIs, and I decide to drag my computer to the next patient. As I am setting up outside the patient room. I notice that the patient looks a bit unwell. She has the classic facial droop and just appears a bit drowsy. I decide to go in and examine her, as my consultant is immersed in his tutorial. I note that she has a left sided facial droop, left sided arm weakness, and slurred speech. I run to my consultant and inform him that we need to call a “Code Stroke”. We call the code; the stroke team comes; there are literally like 20 people in this woman’s room. That is when the neurology registrar recognises the patient. I failed to check her medical history to see that she had suffered a stroke several weeks ago. Her current neurological issues reside around carpal tunnel syndrome in her right hand.

 

We see 12 more patients, and the rest goes fairly smoothly. In an attempt to redeem my atrocious ward round, I decide to attempt the Allied Health handover. My handover goes absolutely amazing, and I am beside myself. My consultant takes the team to coffee, and we celebrate our first day as a team.

 

After a glorious coffee, I spot one of my old registrars from when I was a fifth year medical student. We chat, and I tell him about all of the mistakes I made on the ward round. He laughs and we reminisce on his days as an intern, and he tells me that he knows an intern who had a worse day. He then tells me that his floor had an intern that did not even show up on her first day. I laugh and make a joke about how my floor had two interns. As he leaves, I internally panic and bee-line it back to the ward to check the roster. That is when I realise that I went to ward 7.2, not ward 7.1. It was me. I was the intern that did not show up on my first day.

 

Disclaimer: This is piece of creative writing and does not reflect the author’s beliefs about their own experience.  

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