The Lighter – But Totally True – Side of Medicine

Here’s a note we once spied on a wall at Doctors Hospital in San Diego, California, circa 1982.  The hospital tower had been condemned due to structural concerns, and was, therefore, far too dangerous for normal people like patients and medical staff.  Paramedics, however, remained quartered in a bedroom, all alone next to the morgue, where, according to city EMS experts, “you’ll be safe enough.”  We were a bit slow to read between the lines. 

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The First Twelve Rules 

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“To new staff physicians:  Master these and we’ll go on to the next twelve.”

  1. One of us is worth many of them.  No patient is worth hurting yourself.
  2. Always stick to what you do best.  Or be very, very good at faking it.
  3. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you can justify it later.
  4. You can do everything right and your patient can still die.
  5. You can do lots of things wrong and the patient might live anyway.
  6. Uncommon symptoms of common diseases are far more common than uncommon diseases.  (Also known as Intern Mantra #4)
  7. Better-looking patients get better-looking care.  It’s a law of nature.
  8. Refrain from giving the lecture, “Suicide: how to get it right.”
  9. Don’t give in to pharmaceutical bribery without a fight. Then, enjoy the ride.
  10. Bloody surgeons are happy surgeons.  Leave them alone.
  11. Other peoples’ pain builds character.
  12. Should the patient opt to walk away, he first must sign out A.M.A.

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