Filler A salutary experience

On the receiving end

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7268.1067 (Published 28 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1067
  1. Robert Kendell, retired psychiatrist.
  1. Edinburgh

    One Saturday afternoon long ago, while servicing my car, I ran a splinter of metal into my index finger and couldn't extract it. So I went, grubby and oily, to the accident and emergency department of the hospital where I had trained and then worked for a few years. On a sudden whim I decided not to say that I was a doctor. That decision gave me the most salutary experience of my career.

    I queued at reception to be interrogated by the white coated gatekeeper. Name, address, date of birth, GP's name and address, religion, and next of kin. Foolishly, I suggested that as I was unlikely to die she could manage without my religion or next of kin. It was quickly made clear to me that without a religion I would not be seen, …

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