Sunglasses in the ED

In a completely unscientific observation, I have noticed that patients who wear sunglasses into the Emergency Department usually fall into the category of “not right”.

(There is a carve-out here for people over the age of 70 wearing those 2 pound wrap-around plastic sunglasses; they are in a different category). (Oh, and the one person a year with iritis).

Basically, when I have a patient who is wearing sunglasses in the ER, I always give them the benefit of the doubt, and they never dissapoint me with very very odd behavior before their visit is over. And it’s not just me, and informal poll of the docs I work with led to universal agreement.

I don’t get it, but I don’t wear sunglasses indoors, either.


  1. Aerospace Genius says:

    “It’s a hundred and six miles to Chicago. We’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

  2. From an ER point of view, they wouldn’t be right, either.

    And Carrie Fisher whould blow up my ED.

  3. Aerospace Genius says:

    “Hit it”


  4. I disagree Doc. Most of the people I see in the ER are ?not right?. The ones wearing sunglasses are just ?exceptionally not right?.

    You know you are going to have problems when both the patient and the spouse, boyfriend, sudden fianc? are wearing glasses.

  5. I get the same feeling for people wearing their bathrobes and fuzzy slippers to the ED, especially during the day. If those people are also wearing sunglasses you might as well draw up some Haldol.

  6. The same thing holds for family physician offices. Except I eventually get to find out why they’re “not right.” My stand-out sunglasses wearer was recently on the front page of the newspaper for his drug bust.

  7. I?ve been out of town for a few weeks so I?m a little late in responding to this.

    I was a criminal investigator in the USAF and worked a lot on drug cases. My wife was a nurse working on a Labor and Delivery unit at the local hospital. She use to complain that some patients in labor often seemed to be unwell or exhibited unexpected behavior. I asked her if the patients were druggies and she said they are asked that question during intake and inevitable the answer would be ?Yes, but?.? And a series of excuses would follow.

    Based on my experience with druggies I was able to give her a ?translator? to help her determine ?What the patient REALLY meant?

    Question: Are you using street or recreational drugs or drugs that are not prescribed for your use?

    Patient: ?Yes, but only marijuana and I haven?t used it in months?

    Translation: ?I haven?t smoked any since last night?

    Patient: ?Yes, I used cocaine once at a party last month?

    Translation: ?I?m using speed and/or coke daily?

    Patient: ?Yes, but I haven?t taken anything since I became pregnant?

    Translation: ?I didn?t use today?

    Patient: ?Yes, but only occasionally and at parties?

    Translation: ?I took a hit before I came to the hospital?

    Patient: ?Yes, every now and then?

    Translation: ?I?m holding right now and will do a line as soon as you?re out of the room?

    My wife later told me that when she actually confronted those patients saying thing like that she almost always got (closer to) the truth.