To­day’s menu in­cludes lin­ear for­eign ob­ject

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

For ob­vi­ous rea­sons, we here at Out­liers have al­ways sub­scribed to the adage the pen is might­ier than the sword, but we be­lieved the say­ing re­ferred to the power of the writ­ten word, not the sur­pris­ing dura­bil­ity of pens. Con­sider us im­pressed, based on a find­ing pub­lished re­cently in BMJ Case Re­ports, that a stan­dard felt-tip pen is able to re­main in work­ing or­der af­ter spend­ing 25 years sub­merged in stomach acid, and en­dur­ing count­less English break­fasts.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, “An in­ci­den­tal find­ing of a gas­tric for­eign body 25 years af­ter in­ges­tion,” a 76-year-old woman in Eng­land went to her doc­tor last year suf­fer­ing from sud­den weight loss and di­ar­rhea, and an ab­dom­i­nal CT scan re­vealed a lin­ear for­eign ob­ject in her stomach. The woman re­called an in­ci­dent 25 years ear­lier when she had slipped and fallen and ac­ci­den­tally swal­lowed a pen; at the time her hus­band and doc­tor dis­missed her story but the new CT scan con­firmed her tale. Af­ter some de­lib­er­a­tion, the pen was re­moved, and a scrawled H-E-L-L-O on a sheet of pa­per proved it to still be in work­ing or­der.

The re­port’s authors con­cluded that this in­ci­dent shows that “oc­ca­sion­ally it may be worth be­liev­ing the pa­tient’s ac­count how­ever un­likely.” And it must have been sweet for the pa­tient to fi­nally de­liver a 25-year de­layed “I told you so” to her doubt­ing spouse.


It’s your choice. But we’d opt for eat­ing the ap­ple.

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