Will Soon Eat His Words

, , , , , , | Healthy | July 1, 2018

One of our patients has a procedure in the morning for which he needs to not eat or drink anything for twelve hours prior. This isn’t uncommon before many procedures, and while it’s not pleasant, it’s doable for most people.

Not so with this patient. As soon as the twelve hours start, he rings his call light every fifteen minutes demanding we bring him something to eat. The first few times, his nurse goes in and explains to him why he can’t eat and what the dangers are, and tells him that if he really needs to eat, we can postpone or cancel the procedure — which is not an emergency, but not entirely unelective. He is adamant that he does not want to postpone or cancel, but he demands that we bring him something to eat.

Obviously, we can’t ignore call lights, and so I fall hours behind in my work going into his room every fifteen minutes to reiterate what he already knows: he can eat now and postpone the procedure, or not eat and have it in the morning. He refuses to accept this and insists we bring him something to eat and that we perform the procedure as scheduled.

Around 3:00 in the morning, the call lights finally stop, and we are all relieved, assuming that he has finally fallen asleep. However, while I am catching up on the work I am behind on, I turn the corner to find the stack of dinner trays waiting to be picked up by the cafeteria, and this patient eating off of a used dinner tray. Without saying anything to the patient, and with a certain amount of satisfaction, I call the nurse and tell her she should let the doctor know that his scheduled morning procedure will have to be cancelled.

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