Chief Complaint of the Night


After waiting in the waiting room for several hours the patient’s presenting complaint to the emergency department (not the “emergency room”) was to “do one of those surgeries to make me a woman.”

Exactly how is it that one should respond to that type of request?

Our answer was “Sorry, this is a Catholic institution. We don’t do that kind of thing here.”

Runner up complaint: “I think I have carpal tunnel in my neck.” Kind of like having a sore throat in your wrist, I guess …


  1. Did you get a look at the patient’s genitalia? Because I think “one of those surgeries to make me a woman” can mean different things in different contexts …

  2. Perhaps you could introduce the two complainers…
    you know,
    the wanna-be dic*-less wonder and the pain in the neck.

    Ah, ain’t love grand?!

  3. Wow. That is a good one. I would suggest, “well, if you want I have an 11 blade and some 1% lido handy here – just drop some trow and I’ll get to it.

  4. Did you laugh or smirk at any point? I really don’t know how you docs keep a straight face. 🙂

    I asked an innocent,misguided, but concerned question of a PCP once and went on to explain what was told to me by another medical coworker.

    He corrected my thinking… but the whole time he was interacting..he looked like he just wanted to bust out laughing.

    His magenta face and heaving shoulders gave it away. He really looked like he would explode at one point and really…it would have been so much more comfortable if he just laughed. I would’ve laughed with him and it would’ve cut the tension that was building.

    Maybe he figured he wouldn’t be able to stop and I’d be insulted. I have wondered what he did when he finally got out of the exam room to the other side of the door. ?

    We didn’t really know each other because I usually saw his partner… who would’ve just laughed. 🙂

    And it is just now occurring to me that my coworker may have been joking with me. Wouldn’t be the 1st time I fell for something. GEE!

  5. These denials may not be so easy in the future. We have already seen cases were a reproductive specialist was successfully sued for refusing to perform embry implantation in a lesbian couple on the basis of his religious beliefs. Now with Obama promising to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, patients will be able to present to the ER demanding abortions, ligations etc at Catholic Hospitals. Because this act is tied to all federal spending including CMS it is going to make the issue very tricky. The act also allows for tort action against those who prevent or deter a woman from her right to an abortion.

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