Emergency medicine

A critically ill street person

Gordian Fulde



Most of the patients presenting to the busy hospital emergency department where you do shifts as a GP are sick, but not seriously so. Every now and then, however, you will see a patient who has a potentially fatal condition, and sometimes the patient will die.

Article Extract

A collapsed man

The ambulance brings in a patient who has collapsed on the street. As is usual when a potentially critically ill patient arrives, a cluster of nurses and doctors soon gathers as the ambulance officers take the patient into a resuscitation cubicle.

Quickly everyone realises that the dishevelled and frail old man is a local identity. He is the gentle and polite person who was often seen carrying a brown paper-covered bottle and whom you all thought slept out on the street. Whenever you and other hospital staff saw him around, you would say hello, which he always politely acknowledged. He was never aggressive, nor was he common attender. Everybody liked this man, whose clinical history was now being given by the ambulance drivers in a professional detached manner.