Yes, doctors get sick too. And very frequently they end up in the ER – either because they wait too long to be seen and by the time they finally do, they are in severe pain or really sick, or they are too busy/lazy to go to their own PMD! They often “curbside” you to ask if their small cut needs sutures, or if some other lesion they have is “a spider bite” or something else more serious. Once and a while they pull you into an empty room and ask you to exam them. Other times they come staggering in with a deformed extremity from a fall. Here are some examples over the last few years:
1. Acute Stroke/TIA – I have seen at least three older MD’s who thought they were having a stroke (only one was).
2. Gastroenteritis – often pediatricians due to the nature of their practise.
3. Broken arms and legs – a dime a dozen. Many docs fancy themselves as “sporty” and wipe out on their bikes, ice rink, etc.
4. Kidney stones – I have seen 4 MD’s with multiple attacks. One guy is a urologist who ironically enough was upstairs in the OR doing a procedure to remove a patient’s ureteral stone when he suddenly was stricken with one of his own!
5. Pneumonia – We almost had to intubate one old doc with a bad pneumonia
6. Vertigo – this extremely common problem does not spare MD’s. I am almost just waiting for my first attack!
7. Sick Children – Kids of docs with croup, fevers, lacerations, broken bones, etc are a frequent occurrence here.
8. Metastatic Cancer – There was one sad case a few years ago where one of the older MD’s in our hospital crashed his car in the doctor’s lot -and was found very confused in the driver’s seat. He wound up have massive cerebral metastases from a previously undiagnosed primary cancer. He died about a month later.
In general, MD’s tend to be high maintenance patients – however, when they work at the same hospital as I do, there are definite advantages. Mainly, they are usually VERY nice to you after you treat them or ESPECIALLY their children. They tend not to subsequently yell at you when you call them for an admission at night. Some of the sub-specialists seem almost surprised that we lowly ER docs actually know something. One particular case involved a particularly arrogant orthopaedist who brought her 8 year old son in for a barking cough. I told her is was most definitely croup. She thought it was not and that he had some more serious condition. I re-assured her and ordered a CXR to point out a neat little finding to her- a steeple sign (see the pic at the beginning of this post). She seemed utterly impressed and shocked that I knew such things. He was much better in two days on prednisolone and ever since then she never gives me (much) grief when I call her about a drunk with a fracture!