Monday, August 11, 2008

Every doctor has a needle story or two

If you ask any doctor to tell you an interesting story from administering an injection, they probably have plenty. Most of them involve patients with countless tattoos and piercings who have to get one small needle to freeze a wound before it is stitched shut, but the fear of the needle is just too much, and the patients protest violently.

I was reading a needle story at Scalpel or Sword, along with the additional stories in the reader comments, and was reminded of a few of my own.

One of them did involve a huge, burly motorcyclist with a very, very worried look on his face, who kept asking the paramedics, "I'm not going to have to get a needle, am I?" He had too many tattoos to count. I'm not sure how he survived getting those if his fear was that intense.

Another involved a man who must have had more than half his body weight consisting of metal from piercings. He had cut open his arm with a grinder at work, and was placed in the minor procedures room at the ER to be stitched up. By the time I was in to see him fifteen minutes later, he was clutching the sheets, face down in the pillow, crying and screaming at the top of his lungs. As soon as he saw me, he shouted, "Get me out of here! There are needles in here!" I looked around, and didn't see any. I told him they were all put away, which didn't console him at all. "I don't care!" he screamed. "I know they're in here somewhere!"

While the freezing can burn a bit when people are given needles in a wound, vaccinations don't usually hurt very much if they're given properly. I've gotten 16 needles in the past five years or so, and given many more than that, and have hurt or been hurt hardly ever. While technique is most of it, anecdotal evidence is strong that a good portion of it is in the way you prepare the patient - if you tell them that it won't hurt very much, they often shout a lot less than the ones you tell them "this is really going to hurt."

1 comment:

RT Scribe said...

Try this next time. Just before you stick someone, say something like this: "I haven't done this for months. Damn. Sorry, I don't have any of the good needles left. It's very important that you remain perfectlly stil. Here it comes. On a count of three..."

Let us know how that works out.