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Bizarre tales from A&E
Accident and Emergency
Strange things go on in A&E departments
Casualty departments deal with more cases during the holiday season than at any other time, and some of them can be filed under "bizarre", BBC News Online has discovered.

Among the funny - and sometimes tragic - stories doing the rounds in hospital casualty departments is the one of the patient who waited hours to see a doctor because the new shoes he had been given for Christmas were giving him blisters.

The man sat patiently for four hours before a doctor was free to see him, and when it was pointed out to him what the problem might be, said: "Gosh, doctor, you could be right."

People really can be stupid

Dr John Thurston
"People really can be stupid," says Dr John Thurston, an A&E consultant at Joyce Green Hospital, Dartford, who was unfortunate enough to be on shift that day.

The woman who wouldn't leave her dog at home

Other bizarre cases he has come across over the years include the elderly woman who refused to get into an ambulance without her pet Labrador.

It sparked a bureaucratic row at the hospital over the hygiene requirements before another patient could get in the vehicle.

Dr Thurston adds: "We had a chap the other day who phoned an ambulance because he cut himself shaving. When he got to the hospital he wasn't even bleeding."

The man with a stolen identity

In another case, a man who was somewhat down on his luck, unfortunately died after being admitted to the casualty department.

"One of the nurses went through the deceased man's clothes to try and find out who he was," said Dr Thurston. "She took his jacket off and found some identification, then called out 'I've found it, his name's John Stevens', at which point the anaesthetist turned round and said 'I'm John Stevens, that's my jacket.' "

There are things which defy the imagination

John Heyworth
More disturbingly, there was the time he dealt with an elderly man who was unable to urinate in a straight line and had inserted part of a ball point pen into the vital area to improve his aim, with painful consequences.

The items found in "inappropriate places"

Similarly, John Heyworth, an A&E consultant in Southampton, has, like many of his colleagues, seen various items placed in "inappropriate places". "There are things which defy the imagination," he said.

BBC's Casualty only tells part of the story
Most incidents are rather more innocent, if equally lacking in forethought, such as the man treated by Mike Lambert at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, who broke his hand punching his new pinball machine because of his disappointment at failing to beat the family record on the machine.

The man who played Father Christmas

Mr Lambert also tells the tale known to many A&E consultants, though no-one is exactly sure where it originates from, of the man who decided to deliver his Christmas presents the traditional way - through the chimney.

"He though he'd be very sensible and tie a rope round his waist," said Mr Lambert. "He tied the other end of the rope to the bumper of his car and climbed up onto the roof, where he was merrily putting the presents down the chimney when his wife got into the car and drove it off."

Fortunately, the man was not badly injured, so the story goes.

The man who tried to walk on water

It was hardly an accident and emergency problem

Philip Randall
Philip Randall, an A&E consultant in North Manchester, has experienced a couple of festive season-inspired disasters, such as the man who was a little the worse for wear after a few Christmas drinks and decided to go for a walk across an iced-up canal.

Unfortunately, his bleary eye sight had let him down and it was simply the moonlight reflecting off the water which gave it the impression of being frozen over, as he discovered when his feet became stuck in the mud.

He was released by the fire brigade an hour later suffering from hypothermia, and rushed to the hospital where Mr Randall and his team took over.

The woman with the turkey

But his most ridiculous experience came on a Christmas day when a woman rang up asking how long she should cook her turkey.

Mr Randall said: "The nurse who took the call said it was hardly an accident and emergency problem, to which the woman replied: 'If we don't cook it properly, we're going to get food poisoning and we'll have to come in - then it'll be your problem'.

"We told her to give it 20 minutes per pound plus twenty minutes on top and she seemed satisfied."

See also:

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