Medical Aquarium Warning

Many busy clinics display a large fish tank in the waiting room. Staring at fish can help patients relax and lower blood pressure and anxiety before appointments. But how do fish feel about staring at miserable patients all day long?

In the fall of 1999, an exotic eel makes his feelings known. One morning he jumps out of the tank, flinging himself across the waiting room.

A kind older man picks up the eel; that’s when the eel attacks him.

When I arrive at work, the poor man is in the procedure room, with doctors pulling the eel off his finger while the clinic manager is on the phone with the malpractice carrier. I’m not sure whether we have liability coverage for eel attacks.


Chapter 70 from Pet Goats & Pap Smears: 101 Medical Adventures to Open Your Heart & Mind by Pamela Wible, M.D.

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2 comments on “Medical Aquarium Warning
  1. Shell says:

    That’s freakin’ hysterical!

    I sure wish my PCP had a sense of humor. She’s a real b**** and she’s about to be fired for that. My GYN at least has some compassion, but it’s the “learned it in a Psych class” variety. I long for the old days when a doctor would actually touch my shoulder (in an appropriate way, of course) because that reduces my “white coat syndrome”. I have a very real history of spiking blood pressure which is otherwise low when I am in a doctor’s office. I’m smart enough to connect the dots that an office visit for an ear infection is going to lead a bitch-fest about whatever is charted, making me defensive and therefore uncooperative. Help me understand again the link between cigarette smoking and ear infections? I didn’t think so…

    Look, we both woke up this morning, showered and put our britches on the same way. I respect you as a medical professional. You don’t have to respect me as an IT professional, but basic human courtesy goes a long way.

    Thank you for doing that.

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