Memoirs of a House Officer


This article was written by a Guest Contributor.

After all the hype of graduating from med school and the grand ceremonious swearing occasion where every new doctor must willfully take an oath pledging their undying devotion and loyalty to their patient and how the care of the patient is uttermost, and all the bla bla bla, for many young doctors, all that excitement quickly fizzles away at least within the next 1 year where they work, No ‘slave’ as house-officers as practicing but yet apprentice doctors. It often gets more dramatic if you get into a tertiary/teaching hospital for this one year internship because they are the chief practitioners of medical hierarchy with the bloody house-officer at the bottom rank of the ladder, ever disposed to receive the end-point of all the blame game that occasionally spirals downwards (of course never upwards). Not that the House Officer gets to feel any love from the other hospital staff either, at least definitely not from the nurses, most of whom openly size you up and can’t hide their displeasure that such a young fellow who just got out of school is earning a much higher salary. And to think that I was deceived into thinking that being a daily job would be a relief from med school by giving allowance to have a life!  Most days, solace only comes from the joy and relief of discharging my patients home- I mean, those patients that have truly improved medically and fit to go home, not the other category that their relations insists should be taken to the village for convenience or even sign out against medical advice.

So I once had this male patient who had an accident and was referred to my team, the Neurology unit as he suddenly developed a dramatic personality change with emotional instability and we diagnosed him to have frontal lobe syndrome. He had many bizarre symptoms so we having difficulty in managing him. His most recent stunt was his new unabated decision that the nurses were poisoning him. On this faithful morning, I came in early to start my ward rounds but unknown to me, stuff had started again at night so he was very uneasy. By the time I got to his bedside, he suddenly jumped up and said he will beat me up!

Hmm, I can barely remember how I wittily escaped and gave instructions to the nurses for him to be restrained. Actually, I had a very bold face on as I attempted to act calm and in control, or so I thought, then I reappeared two hours later. Now he seemed calm and was somewhat restrained so I tried to do everything I had to do really fast- quickly examined him, and tried to give his IV drugs almost at the same time. As extra security, I asked his three brothers (who were hefty guys) to assist by slightly holding him down while he gets his medication, so I started giving him his IV drug.

I have no idea how he freed one leg because the next thing was that he kicked me hard on the head with his leg! Then released himself and jumped up!!! Chei, nobody told me to get up from the floor and run, I momentarily forgot my dignity as a doctor. I ran like it was a 100 metres dash and locked up myself in the doctor’s call room.

I guess his brothers held him back but when I eventually came out, I went straight to give a consult to the psychiatry department. After the whole incident I was too embarrassed to get back into that ward. Well, I finally did, not like I had much of a choice though, but by then he has already been placed on some anti-psychotics. On seeing me walk back in, all the other patients had this grin or weird smile on like they caught me doing something…

Yes, I was the doctor around but when situations like this present, I don’t know who would have anything much different than what I did. Right now, I just think about it and laugh at myself, lol.


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