The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Here is another story from the Careers section. Please send Tracy Napper your story today! (

You can’t make these things up. Several of my favorite ED recollections are much better than any Hollywood writer could devise.

For example, my last shift at my previous job. Night shift, of course – you only get the best shifts when you say you are leaving. Somewhere after midnight and before the going away festivities, EMS called saying they were bringing in a drunk. Nothing unusual there – it happens at least once or twice a day [smile]. It was the background laughter of this very seasoned crew that piqued my curiosity. This was a veteran crew – nothing fazed them.
When the patient arrived, my suspicions were correct. Before me, chained to the cot, was a crazed, naked, very ugly looking man thrashing around. The story? He had been found running through the streets, yelling at the top of his lungs. Naked. In December. In the cold and snow. He was on, amongst other things, PCP. And he had been shooting a porn movie.
It’s not my area of expertise but this gentleman appeared to have nothing to offer a movie of any kind, let alone pornography. And since the porn industry is centered in the Valley north of LA, I could not understand what he was doing in Ohio, 2500 miles east. And once he sobered, he could not offer any other explanation other than “they asked me” about his film role.

I can’t say that I learned anything of a clinical nature from this encounter. Nothing administrative either. The case did reinforce my opinion that you should always ask the patient to tell you the truth. And when they do, be prepared to stay poker faced as they relate things that most novelists could never imagine. And when the powers that be tell you that you spend too much or that your care profile is all over the board, ask them if they’ve ever treated a porn star in the snow at 3AM and what the care plan is for that.

Sullivan K. Smith, MD

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