I had a patient today who personified misunderstanding. I tell this not to embarrass my patient, but to give a glimpse into the life we lead in the ED, and the confusing cues that can occur:

After a history and physical examination, I began my new spiel, explaining what we would do, and the expected time:

Me: “We’re going to draw some blood, test your urine, and get a cat scan…”
Pt: “I don’t have a cat”.
Me: “…..Umm…., it’s an x-ray test”
Pt: “Oh, okay”.

Same patient, later:

Pt: “I’ve been pushing the TV button on my call button, but no TV has shown up yet”.
Me: “Your room doesn’t have a TV. It’s a generic nurse call button, and if your room had a TV that button would turn it on and off. Your room doesn’t have a TV.”
Pt: “Oh”.

I’m not completely sure I wasn’t on some Candid Camera thing, but nobody asked me to sign a release, so maybe I don’t understand.


  1. Jack Coupal says:

    I’m putting my money on the hypothesis that your patient was a public school graduate.

  2. I would put my money on a public school dropout…”where’s the TV?”

  3. Sometimes the stress of talking to a doctor can make even the most intelligent person say stupid things.

    Case in point: I was getting may annual female parts exam. The nurse was going through the list of the usual questions and asked “sex?” My answer with a puzzled look on my face — “hetero.” She gave me a funny look and said, “no, I mean your gender.” Come to think of it, her question was stupid — I’m there for a female parts exam, what gender did she think I was? Even if I was transgender, I don’t think I’d have the internal stuff that needs checking.

  4. Were they one of those people who were trying to be funny and their comedic timing was off? Those look like jokes to me.
    But then again, I’m learning there is no limit…

  5. GingerB says:

    I’ve written user manuals where the first step was to instruct the user to turn the PC on.

    Now most of us would think that didn’t need to be mentioned — but apparently it does!

  6. My husband has written user manuals that not only say to start by turning on the machine, but give VERY detailed instructions as to where the switch is. Your tax dollars at work.

  7. Jen N. RN says:

    LMAO!!!!! Me and Tiff and Jen G are not entirely suprised that you would attract that type of patient!!!!

  8. Homer Simpson lives!

  9. It must be nice to live in a world where one expects things at the push of a button. Perhaps your patient thought they were in a hotel?

    Instructions for this post:

    1)read words
    2)laugh (or “laff” depending on where you’re from) at sarcasm.