Some Joke


Yosemite_SamIf you haven’t been threatened by a patient, you haven’t been working in an emergency department very long. It’s a common occurrence that shouldn’t be so common. You can read about “patients gone wild” on this blog almost every week – and those are just the incidences that make the news. Little threats come even more often than that.

Most of the time we just laugh the threats off.

One patient was a little more convincing than some of the others, though. It wasn’t just some idle threat. This overly intoxicated patient repeatedly yelled at the doc in a loud voice reminiscent of Yosemite Sam that “I’m going to kill you.” He would randomly spout out his intended modus operandi with such phrases as “I’m going to blow your head off” and “I’m going to slit your throat.” The doctor he threatened was a nervous type and the threats got to him. He talked about what a “lunatic” the patient was that day and he made sure the patient had plenty of Ativan and stayed sedated for the remainder of his shift. Eventually, the patient slept off his alcoholic rage and was sent home with his significant other.

The following day, Doctor Ativan returned for another day at work. About half way through the day, one of the male nurses started his afternoon shift.

Dr. Ativan was in a side room dictating. The nurse witnessed what occurred the day prior and decided that he was going to play a joke on the doctor. So he went to the end of that hall and said in a loud gruff voice “Where’s that Doctor Ativan? I’ve got a score to settle with him!”

Brief silence.

“Where IS he? I know he’s working today…. Have YOU seen him?”

All of a sudden you could hear things falling on the floor in the dictation room. Dr. Ativan busts out of the room, runs into the wall across the hall, then starts running down the hallway in as much of a serpentine pattern [see below]as the walls would allow with his hands covering his head. He ran out the emergency exit, setting off the fire alarm, jumped in his truck, and sped away down the street. It took about five minutes to reach him on his cell phone and get him back to the department.

Good thing it was a slow afternoon.



This and all posts about patients may be fictional, may be my experiences, may be submitted by readers for publication here, or may be any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate. If you would like to have a patient story published on WhiteCoat’s Call Room, please e-mail me.


  1. I laughed out loud at the image of the doctor boinging serpentine against the walls to get out. Well …I laughed at all of it. Great joke …although cruel ..but funny. Apropos for the ED.

    Did the doctor really freak out like that though? I am picturing him like a Don Knotts in scrubs. 🙂

    I actually put that clip in one of my comments in your blog some years ago …although don’t recall why. That is one of my all time favorite funny movie scenes. SERPENTINE! SERPENTINE! Thanks for the laugh.:)

  2. Long Time E.D. Doc on

    I have no doubt this generated a laugh despite the cruel nature of the joke. (I might have laughed in the moment too.) However, the idea that we constantly work under the threat of violence takes it’s toll, not totally unlike that of PTSD. You never know what’s going to trigger a strong or inappropriate reaction and the stress on the psyche is cumulative.

    I’d recommend the nurse not pull a fake gun on a cop either, you know, just as a joke.

    Collectively, I’d suggest we try to look out for each other while in the E.D. It’s not like a lot of others are going to do that for us.

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