Intended for healthcare professionals


“Phlebomania Hancocksia”: prevalence of a previously undescribed psychomotor disturbance

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 21 December 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1620
  1. Lindsay CH John, senior registrara
  1. a Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London EC1A 7BE

    While we were taking blood samples from cardiac surgical patients to study platelet function and blood loss1 2 3 we observed a common phenomenon. Several patients asked how much blood was going to be taken, and a proportion of them responded uniformly to the reply that it was to be only enough for one large syringe. They first appeared shocked, uttering: “What, that's almost a whole armful!” A hysterical phase manifest by uncontrollable laughter would then follow, usually ending in an apology in response to the concern of medical staff. As a means of explanation the afflicted patient would often utter a bisyllabic word sounding like Hancock.

    This psychomotor disturbance with its unique combination of bizarre facial expression …

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