Innocence revisited

Shortness of breath on a Sunday evening

Andrew Thomson



Maintaining skills in performing invasive procedures is more difficult now that medicine has become so compartmentalised. Dr Thomson, a Canberra gastroenterologist, recalls when he performed an invasive procedure he had not done for many years – an ironic tale of scarcity amongst plenty.

Article Extract

The confusing message from the nursing supervisor of the private hospital startled me: ‘You did a barium meal on a lady called Mrs X today and she’s now got severe abdominal pain.’

The supervisor was insistent, saying a patient’s husband had rung the private hospital directly, looking for a bed for his wife. The only things I had done there that day were to consult and do a ward round. I didn’t feel inclined to remind her that
gastroenterologists do not ‘do’ barium meals and nowadays in fact rarely order them.