Cautionary tales - Dr Paul Mara

IN MEDICINE it’s probably okay to make a mistake once, but twice is stretching it. 

Over 30 years in practice I’ve found orthopaedics to be particularly hazardous. 

As junior doctors, we were told not to over-investigate but then were mercilessly caned if we missed something. 

As a hospital administrator once told me after a patient in casualty with a finger injury hadn’t returned as requested and had left a buddy splint on for two months (leaving a stiff finger and wrecking a brilliant career as a concert pianist): “No x-ray is more expensive than a lawsuit.”  

A few years ago, I had a call from a junior registrar, who was on call, about a young man who had fallen two metres from a ladder. 

He presented with a clearly dislocated right ring finger and the registrar wanted to reduce it and asked for my help. 

He had an x-ray – it was a Friday, one of two