For healthcare professionals only

Fillers A memorable patient

Someone else's problem

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 18 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:194

Annie had come from a neighbouring psychogeriatric hospital with a huge, infected pressure sore. She was in her 80s, doubly incontinent, and demented. Dressing changes were a great challenge to the nursing staff, owing to Annie's combative skills including a formidable ability to spit several feet. However, after several months the wound was clean and healthy. The visiting plastic surgeon decided that she was now ready for skin grafting and asked me to arrange it.

As a keen new houseman I blithely said that I would, not foreseeing the difficulties that lay ahead. Theatres would be undergoing routine maintenance on the day in question and all operations were cancelled. I tracked down a free orthopaedic theatre at another hospital, but, unfortunately, no general surgery was done there, so I had to find lodgings for Annie. The …

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