Saturday, February 19, 2005

Knife in the Brain

Originally uploaded by Ressler.
The image here is from the internet. I'm not posting scans of my own patients - even without the identification removed it might violate their rights somehow. Anyway - I've seen a case almost like this one, but my patient had a knife through the eye. Her boyfriend had pushed a very large bread knife into her head while she was sleeping. All the way up to the handle. She was brought into the ER with a knife handle protruding from her eye. We took her in the operating room and did a craniotomy, i.e. opened the skull, pulled the brain aside a bit, and retracted the knife while making sure that the blade didn't damage any blood vessels or the sensitive cranial nerves such as the optic nerve. The operation was a success, and she recovered very well.

A colleague of mine had to go to court to testify. He came back extremely pissed at the defense attorneys demanding to know whether my colleague could say for 100% sure that the man hadn't had second thoughts while pushing the knife and eased on the pressure feeling remorse, which they felt he had done and therefore the court should show lenience. Load of crap if you ask me.

We doctors are generally reluctant to go to court to testify, because the lawyers seem to ask trick questions all the time and it seems they exist in some other reality compared to that which we see in our line of work.


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