Library Collections: Document: Full Text

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Creator: Frank L. Wright, Jr. (author)
Date: 1947
Publisher: National Mental Health Foundation, Inc.
Source: Available at selected libraries
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 2  Figure 3  Figure 4  Figure 5  Figure 6  Figure 7  Figure 8  Figure 9  Figure 10  Figure 11  Figure 12  Figure 13  Figure 14  Figure 15  Figure 16  Figure 17

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"It's impossible to bring diabetics under control without more frequent tests. Dr. Patterson. I'll need -- "


He was interrupted by another tirade about how long she had been in charge of the laboratory, how it was the best in the state, and how he was just a young nobody, meddling in affairs that were none of his business.


When the neat lab reports came up. Dr. Flemming looked them over and decided he would talk to Dr. Patterson in person. He picked out a report on one diabetic and headed for the laboratory. Dr. Patterson seemed pleased by his visit and asked him to sit down.


"Dr. Patterson, I want to verify this report. It indicates that Patient Johnson showed a blood sugar level of 50 milligrams/percent, and a urine analysis of two percent sugar. Is that right,"


Of course it's right! Everything that comes out of this laboratory is right. This is the finest laboratory in the state, and I'm -- "


"I'm not questioning how fine the laboratory is, nor how well trained you are. I'm only questioning these figures."


"Well, you've plenty of nerve. These figures are -- "


"Perhaps you don't know. Dr. Patterson, that 50 milligrams/percent sugar is below the level of hypoglycemic shock. According to these figures, Johnson should be in coma. Actually, he's been active all week. Perhaps you don't know, either, that a patient with such a low sugar level couldn't possibly pass any sugar in his urine, let alone two percent concentration."


"Humph! Poppycock! Drivel!" sputtered Dr. Patterson, her face almost blue with rage.


"I thought possibly your standard solutions might have aged or become inaccurate somehow," Dr. Flemming suggested. He had decided he had better offer her some alibi for her trouble, or she might throw a fit any minute.


But she only became more angry. Her face became livid; she shook all over. "I'll have you know -- " she began, drawing to her full height.


But Dr. Flemming decided that she might throw something more weighty and destructive than a fit. So he went back to his patients to practice medicine without the aid of laboratory determinations.


(Based on report 774)




"The physician must remember that treatment of the neurotic patient begins at the first instant of contact. Hurry, carelessness, impatience, unwill-ingness to make case notes, not only deprive the physician of needed knowledge, but also prevent the establishment of proper relations with the patient, without which nothing constructive can be accomplished." (4)

(4) Reprinted from Fundamentals of Psychiatry, by Edward A, Strecker, M.D., by permission of J. B. Lippincott Company.


-- EDWARD A. STRECKER, M.D, Professor of Psychiatry University of Pennsylvania.


"Here comes 'Swifty,'" whispered the working patient who was helping Dave wash the mattresses on Ward C.


Dave dropped his sponge in the bucket, slipped on his white coat, and stood at attention while Dr. Chalmers made his daily "round."


Every day for the past seven months -- except Thursdays and Sundays when he was off duty -- Dr. Chalmers had walked rapidly through the hall, ignoring both attendants and pa-tients, leaving the ward less than a minute after he had entered it -- speaking to no one.


But this day was different. One of the occupational thera-pists had taken pity on the hundred and ten patients who spent all of every day locked up on Ward C. He had brought a portable phonograph to the ward, and now he had over half the patients marching gleefully around the day room in time to the music.


Surveying this scene as he entered the ward. Dr. Chalmers smirked a little, and shook his head. As he passed Dave on his way to the farther door, he shrugged his head in the direc-tion of the music:


"Almost like trying to put some life into a bunch of cadavers, isn't it? That O.T. man ought to waste his time some place else. Imagine! Dancing in a living graveyard!


(Based on reports 1220 and 1221)


Edna Breen was a lovable old creature. She had been in the hospital forty-one years, and she considered herself the hostess of Rimer Hall. Aunt Edna -- as everyone called her -- couldn't see very well, but she spent most of her days tatting and weaving with her old "grocery store" string. Nearly every-body in the hospital saved string for Edna, and she would change a ball of cheap string into a delicate, beautifully de-signed doily or pillow cover in almost no time at all.


"Here's a little old rag I made out of my spare time," she'd say, chuckling. And she'd give her latest piece of hand-work to a new nurse or attendant. Until you had a gift from Aunt Edna you just weren't "one of the folks" at Wardmore Hospital.


One day Aunt Edna's failing eyesight got her confused, and she collided with a window washer's ladder, which had been left in the middle of the hall. Her lip was cut quite deeply.


When the doctor came through on his daily rounds, the charge nurse suggested that the cut should have a stitch or two taken in it. The doctor didn't even look at the cut.


"Let's see, he said, "today is Wednesday -- ironing day; sewing day is Saturday."

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