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    Applying rules of engagement to real-life scenarios

    From military to clinic, lessons learned can provide valuable experience for future directives

     

    She caught me with a right hook to the jaw and down I went. Evidently, she had an age problem. How could this happen with my professional woman patient? The reason she was dressed up was she thought she was Cybill Shepherd from the TV series “Moonlighting.” Funny, I watched that show every week—no real resemblance.

    Rule 2 subparagraph b. “Just because their feet are pointing in the right direction doesn’t mean their legs are attached.”

    This occurred during my Veterans Affair hospital tenure, but also pertains to any situation where a patient might be transferred from a wheelchair to an exam chair.

    I had a gentleman wheel his way into my exam lane. He had a Navy lap blanket covering his legs. We discussed his blanket and the logo and how his wife had done a great job knitting this for him because his legs got cold. He was there for a follow-up from a stroke. I asked him if he needed help getting into the exam chair. He said he could do it himself, and began to do so.

    The last thing I saw out of the corner of my eye was he started to fall. I reached my right arm out, he grabbed it, and we both went down. I ended up in a cast on my arm for the whole summer. Two other technicians helped him into the exam chair. Still lying on the floor, I looked at his chair. There were his two prosthetic legs—pointing in the right direction. He did not have his remaining legs in the prosthesis because they were sore—and he had forgotten. Moral of the story: Do not presume patients can transfer themselves simply because they say they can. Pay full attention and be close by to assist.

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