Crossed Wires

The following phone call happened to one of the doctors at the acute admissions ward at the hospital where I am currently doing my fourth year elective:

REFERRING DOCTOR FROM RURAL CLINIC: I have a ten-year-old patient with meningism to refer.

DOCTOR: Alright, can you tell me more?

REFERRING DOCTOR: The patient has meningism and is acutely ill. She also has a reduced level of consciousness.

DOCTOR: What is the patient’s GCS?

REFERRING DOCTOR: (long pause with the sound of pages being turned) No… unfortunately the GCS is out of stock.

Since the patient was actually alive, I don’t think the doctor could have intended it figuratively. There is a significant language barrier in this province (well, in South Africa in general), so perhaps that contributed to this unfortunate communication. Of course, sound quality is sometimes quite poor when a call is to or from a rural area, so perhaps there is a sort of logical explanation…


  1. Thanks for linking up with Medical Monday’s and for including a link to the definition of GCS. I should know that!

  2. “Out of Stock” would be very bad indeed. Ellen

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