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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
 
BMJ. 2007 May 26; 334(7603): 1111.
PMCID: PMC1877949

Confusion?

Anne Foley, specialist registrar, St Helen's and Knowsley Hospitals, Liverpool

As bad luck would have it, both my grandfather and his mother, my great grandmother, ended up in the same hospital at the same time. As is only right in this day and age, they were in separate, single-sex wards.

My father and I went to visit them on our first available weekend. Deciding how best to divide up the allowed visiting time, we decided to see one each and then swap at half time. As we were about to do this, we noticed the shocked expression on the nearby nurses' faces.

It turned out that they had thought that my grandfather was confused because he kept asking to see his mother. This had kept him in hospital an extra week to run tests. The only test that they hadn't run was to find out if, indeed, his mother was alive. If they'd checked this they would have found her on the next ward, very much alive, with a broken clavicle. She was only 92.

The lesson? Sometimes it's not the patient who's confused.


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