2 December 2015
There are some patients which will always stick with you, some for good reasons, others for less pleasant ones. This week I had a patient who fitted the first of these descriptions; I won’t be forgetting him in a hurry!
Towards the end of our shift we were sent to a GP urgent call (a low priority call where a GP has visited and deemed that the patient needs to be admitted to hospital, but does not need a blue light response). The call stated that the ambulance had been requested for an 82 year old male with “increasing confusion” and that the hospital had been informed that he would be arriving by ambulance. As you will soon see, we on the ambulance very rarely know all the details of what’s going on by the time we arrive on scene. It’s down to us to work out exactly what is going on and what the ideal treatment path for the patient is once we have made contact with the patient and the family in person.
When we arrived we were told by the family the one key piece of information that our control team had not been told on the phone. The patient was under section under the mental health act due to his dementia reaching a stage where he was a risk to his own safety. He had walked out of hospital in the morning, got on a bus, and went back home to his family because he wanted to make sure his wife was being looked after by his family. The patients GP had liaised with the ward, the patient had gone AWOL from and both were in agreement that, given the patients age and his reason for leaving the hospital, an ambulance would be more appropriate for returning to hospital, as opposed to the other option- the police.
Once the patient was on the back of the ambulance I asked him if he understood what was going on and why we had been called. The patient stated that we were “taking [him] back to hospital because everyone [thought he] was mad”; he said this with a smile on his face. I asked him if he agreed with those that said that and his response will stick with me for a long time “I know I’m mad, it’s great fun!” On the way to hospital the patient told me about how he’d travelled the world, and about the fun he’d had escaping from hospital! Once we got to the hospital, we went back to the ward the patient had been on and handed him back to the ward staff, but not before some words were had with him about staying put this time and not trying to run away again- he seemed to agree with me.
As I’ve said before, it’s not always the ‘big jobs’ that stick with you, sometimes it’s the small and relatively simple ones that may stay in your mind for the longest!