Friday, November 14, 2008

Missing (parts of) Persons

I get a lot of work-related emails. Most of it is just instant-delete type junk, but this one made me laugh:
EM Residents and Faculty,
Need your help with an issue here, digits with no owners....
Since August 2008 we have had three separate cases where finger tips or most of a thumb were found unlabeled on trays or in drawers in a bag. The most recent was yesterday. It is impossible for us to track what providers may have been involved in these cases as specimens were unlabeled. I have attached some hospital polices that address this, but I think _______ from pathology sums it up nicely that if the resident is in doubt, put the specimen in a container, label it with patient's name and MR# and send it down to pathology with a requisition. We'd appreciate your help, I'll be sending a reminder to the orthopedic residents as well.
So, I don't know who has been leaving dismembered body parts laying around (or worse yet, shoving them in a drawer?), but it is kind of brings up some funny imagery of body parts just lying around everywhere in random drawers.
Recently, I saw a prisoner who got one of his front teeth knocked out when he was punched in the face. He tried to put it back in himself, but when he woke up the next morning, he found his tooth lying on his pillow.
By this point, the tooth was no longer salvageable. We put it in a specimen cup and asked him if he'd like to keep it. He said yes, at which point the guards interjected and said that he couldn't take it back to jail with him. We asked if they could store it for him with his personal belongings, and were given a line about there not being enough storage space in the jail.
I had thought about sending his tooth to the lab to have them identify it, just for the kick of seeing a label on the computer that said Incisor; likely human, but in the end, the thing just got red bagged.


Chris said...

That gives a new meaning to the phrase "I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached to my body".

ru said...

I like your stories :) I'm going to have to open drawers very slowly now, just in case they contain parts of a thumb, or worse.