When I was growing up, my mother told me and my brothers to make sure that we always left the house wearing clean underwear and clean socks because “what if we were in an accident and had to go to the Emergency Room?” Do doctors and nurses really notice whether a patient is wearing clean underwear and socks?
[Umm. Just so we're clear on this. I would wear clean underwear and socks even if there wasn't a chance I might end up having to go to the ER. Although, I have to admit there might occasionally be a hole in my sock. Well, if it's on the bottom, who's gonna see it? Except maybe someone in the ER. Okay, no more socks with holes.]
Note to MSG: Hey sweetie, I really like your blog (sorry, I couldn't resist).
UPDATE: Yes, I'm still alive. I will have a new post sometime this weekend. Thanks for stopping by.
Yes- we notice....
"Do doctors and nurses really notice whether a patient is wearing clean underwear and socks?".
Not unless especially stinky. Do we care / get offended ? No.
If you're in a serious accident / have a seizure etc the issue soon becomes moot a lot of the time, anyway.
We have a saying downunder - 'hope you wore your brown undies!'.
One of the ED docs I worked with couldn't restrain himself from discussing the sexy panties that his female patient was wearing. For him the issue was that the patient didn't match his perception of what the woman who wears those "sexy" panties should look like. He had just seen her and then came to dinner at the cafeteria, openly joking about it. It was before HIPPA, but he shouldn't have done it. Maybe because we all worked with him he thought it was O.K. He was one of my favorite docs and a good one too, with a great sense of humor - just shouldn't have done that.
We notice everything. How someone is dressed is often an important feature of their exam and gives us an idea of how well the person is currently functioning.
My grandmother had similar advice, only she said not to wear underwear and socks with holes in them "because you might get in an accident . . ."
Wearing clean socks can prevent emergent visits too.
I took one of my children in for a tetanus booster after he managed to pierce his foot with a clean but sharp item in my house. Why? He was wearing the world's filthiest socks at the time.
I made him wash and change before I took him, but the pediatrician got a good laugh -- and agreed with me on the need for the tetanus booster.
Evidently the admonition is near universal.
It's important to know if a person soiled him/herself as a result of the acute conditon. It would therefore be useful to have a quick method of carbon-dating pre-existing, uh, decorations.
On a related note, I may have mentioned another time seeing a soldier in my military days who said he had a "drip." (Uretheral discharge, as in gonorrhea.) "Let's have a look," I said. He pulled down his pants to reveal a salad-plate size green spot on his underwear. "Wow, that's some drip," I ejaculated. "Yeah," he said. "And that's just since Thursday." It was Tuesday.
I've seen underwear that would blow your mind. As far as the socks go, for a lot of our customers the only time they change them is when they return to the hospital and get a new pair from us.
Thanks for your comments. I love them all.
and Dr. Schwab. . .you have such a way with words.
Ew. Ew, ew, ew.
Oh Lordy, addict, you touched a nerve here. Daughter had jaw surgery last week. Hubby and I had to wait for the pre-op nurses to get her changed and hooked up to an IV before they'd let us come back and sit with her before taking her to the OR.
We got in her room, and Daughter said, "Mom, I probably shouldn't have been more careful about the undies I wore."
"Why?" I asked.
"The nurses started cracking up as they put my clothes into the bag."
I reached over and pulled them out. "Oh Gawd," I groaned. "These were the ones your friends gave you as a joke on your birthday."
Imagine this: a bright pink thong that says, "Get Your Hot Monkey Love Here."
I'm still in a quandry as to why mothers don't earn combat pay.
This is funny and yes, it all makes sense. seaspray's was the best though...commenting upon what "type" of patient would be perceived to wear a certain type of underwear? Well, I suppose we all have preconceived notions of things but I don't go around mentally undressing everyone I see...
And who doesn't put on clean socks and underwear every day? Well, maybe if you're *really* sick or something but if you're functioning alright and going to work and conducting things at a decent capacity...huh...
Very funny MA,very funny.
Interestingly enough I had a patient late Friday afternoon who needed to have an abscess drained in his thigh, thus revealing his yellowed "tidy whities". I wondered how many days straight he'd worn them while I tried to not touch them during the initial incision.
But actually, for me and my fellow ER cronies, we couldn't care less about underwear--clean or dirty. In fact, my heart and pity may go out more so towards a dirty & ill person than a clean one, because I will mourn their life circumstances which caused them to be in that predicament, whether it's their own "fault" or not. For many nurses, our jobs have become so normal and routine to us, and we've seen so many thousands of human bodies in a myriad of conditions--- that our emotions, judgments, and senses are no longer easily offended. Bodies that are washed or unwashed, good or bad hygiene, clean or dirty clothing, poop or pee, blood or pus, vomit or snot---these are the substances (the very media) which we choose to work in. It matters not a whit to me if my patient is clean or dirty. I do not judge nor do I praise. I simply...take care of the patient. (But I'll admit that this attitude came after a few years---I can remember being "grossed out" a little in my student nurse and rookie years...) Good topic.
in kalafong, a hospital in pretoria where i rotated while studying, there were some pretty rancid feet. i feel that a patient should change his socks at least once every two weeks, especially if he insists on getting shot in the femoral artery. otherwise it's difficult to tell whether it is a pedal pulse you're feeling or your own rhythmic gagging.
Are ya kiddin? We notice everything. It is our job to. From granny panties to an unflattering thong on a 600+ lbs. walrus (who knew that they make thongs that could fit these folks?), to depends diaper, to cruddy yellow-brown crap-crusted briefs on a homeless guy...there ain't nothing that I haven't seen. We don't mind socks as much, just as long as they don't stink ala TSS (Toxic socks syndrome). Bras are an entirely different animal. Who knew that a bra could cost so much? I once took my trauma sheers to one of those water bra and got squirted! I plead male ignorance.
The disturbing thing about all of this is that as much as we want to toss all of these unsightly and smelly unmentionables into the biohazzard waste trash cans where they belong, we're actually not allowed to do that and must place them all into a bag to return to the patients once they are discharged.
Your anonymous ER doc
i guess the only time i noticed was when a local policeman (who had a wife and kids) dropped dead in a local gay-bar and was brought in by ambulance. he was living, as they say, on the ''down low'', and was dressed as a woman. we removed the mascara, makeup, and frilly things before the family came in to view the body.
Hi MBA, this has nothing to do with changing underwear but it does have to do with changing my blog. I've migrated to WordPress so you can now find me and relink me to patientanonymous.wordpress.com
Where I work the condition of undies is not really considered an issue. We do wonder why some patients - usually men - who have booked outpatient appointments, choose to leave their underwear at home!!
However in the operating theatre many a nurse has said "check out these" and shown us the toe nails that are hard and grainy and curl up and over the patients toes!! Gross!!
Interesting tattoos can also be the cause of many a discussion - but only when the patient is asleep.
It does make a difference what people are wearing, their affect and the way they present in general... but it's alot more than underwear. Great blog. Michelle
Your last post disappeared! Have the summer/warm weather blues gone away? Hope all is well!
Ahh, if only doctors really were superheros...then they wouldn't care if we had on stinky underwear because all they would be focused on is helping people. But, alas, they are human and make plenty of mistakes.
Want a patient perspective? Read my blog:
New to your blog and enjoying it!
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