Sometimes I encounter patients who are so inept that I wonder how they can remember to breathe and feed themselves. I occasionally have people show up to the emergency department who give a history that closely resembles Abbott and Costello. The following is a real honest-to-God encounter I had recently.
Me: what brings you to the hospital today?
Her: I fell and hurt my arm.
Me: how did you fall?
Her: I slipped in a chair.
Me: did you fall on the floor?
Her: no, I was in the chair.
Me: did you fall into the chair?
Her: no, I was already sitting there.
Me: so let me get this straight: you were sitting in a chair and then fell into that same chair.
Me: and you hurt your arm?
Me: where on your arm does it hurt?
Her: right here on the inside.
Me: how did you hurt the inside of your arm?
Her: I fell in the chair.
Me: did you hit something?
Her: I hit the chair.
Me: on a scale from 1 to 10, how bad is the pain right now?
Her: it’s a four.
Me: I see here that you have a previous history of arthritis. What is your pain level usually?
Her: it’s a four
Me: so let me get this straight, you’re in the same amount of pain right now that you are always in?
Me: what’s different about today than any other day?
Her: I hurt.
Me: is this a new kind of hurt?
Me: what’s different?
Her: I fell.
Me: I see. How about I just send you out on some ibuprofen?