A Physical Impossibility


Last night was interesting. These types of patient interactions are why I love medicine so much.

A young lady was brought in by intoxicated family members after being unable to tolerate quite as high of a blood alcohol content as her present company. She had vomit all over her and was in need of a good night’s sleep.
We gave her some medication for her vomiting and watched her for several hours. She finally sobered up enough to go home.
I was discussing the discharge instructions with a sober family member who had come to get her. One of the less than sober family members apparently wanted us to watch the patient longer.
“What if she goes home and drinks more?”
“I’m sending her home with someone responsible so she won’t do that.”
“What if she doesn’t listen?”
“I can’t force her not to drink even if I send her home with no alcohol in her system.”
Getting visibly irritated, she snapped back “Well what’s going to happen if she wakes up DEAD?!?”
Several comebacks to that one were running through my mind at that moment. I chose the most politically correct one and told her
“Ma’am, I can assure you … that won’t happen.”


  1. One time a patient grew im-patient with me, and said, “Doc, if you don’t hurry up and do something, one of these days I’m gonna wake up dead!”
    I thought I’d never hear that phrase again, but I was wrong.

    Dr. B

  2. That’s how I refer to all of our 0600 codes that are still warm when EMS gets there, so they work them.

    At least twice a week someone wakes up dead.

    They always stay that way, too.

  3. So once again the great unwashed masses of humanity are proving that our society has almost been completely trained. Trained to acquiesce every shred of their dignity to the “gubermint”!!! Trained to halt all critical thinking skills! Trained to act like animals!
    Oh lordy, I hope that chick-a-boom practices safe sex!!!!!


  4. Like Monkeygirl, we also refer to early morning codes as “waking up dead.” Don’t you love how family members bring their alcoholic loved ones to the ER to be “fixed”? If only it were that easy…

  5. Nothing will beat the 16 year old who i saw last night. Her chief complaint: Possible STD.

    Her opening comment: Doc, I think i need help.

    My response: Well, what brings you in to see us this evening?

    Her answer: Well, I think I have an STD, but, well, i’m kind of embarrassed to say this, but I think I’m addicted to sex! I just can’t say no! I think this is my 4th time with chlamydia…but you gotta help me with this addiction!

    I proceeded to walk out of the room, tell my attending (i’m a resident), and he almost snarfed a diet sprite out his nose.

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