Patients Say the Darndest Things

In celebration of Doctor’s Day, we asked a few of our physicians what’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

doctor's day
Left: Dr. Mary Jane Piroutek. Right: Snow White, her doppelgänger.

Dr. Mary Jane Piroutek, emergency medicine specialist

Q: What’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A:  Kids say funny things all the time. One of my favorites was a little 4 year old girl that had ingested coins and they were stuck in her esophagus. When I asked her what happened she shrugged her shoulder and with a mischievous look in her eyes said, “I ate the money, I’m not supposed to eat the money.”  Also recently a patient told me I looked like Snow White (which I don’t) and she called me Dr. Snow White the whole time I took care of her.

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Dr. Gary Goodman, medical director, pediatric intensive care unit, CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital

Q: What’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A: Just recently, I had a patient, who has a mild developmental delay, call me “the boy.”  I would stop in the patient’s room each morning, at which point I’d get asked, “What do YOU want?”

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Dr. Kenneth Kwon, emergency medicine specialist

Q: What’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A: An adage in pediatric emergency care is when a child comes in with a nosebleed, you don’t ask if he picks his nose, you ask him which finger he uses. When I asked this question to one of my pint-sized patients, he answered that he used all of them, and then proceeded to demonstrate by sticking each of his 10 fingers in his nose individually. It was priceless.

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Dr. Maryam Gholizadeh, general and thoracic surgeon

Q: What’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A: There was a young child around 8-9 years old and we were going to remove his appendix with laparoscopy. I was standing on his left side because with laparoscopy we make our incision on the left side. Just before he went to sleep he looked up at me and said, “Why are you standing on my left? My appendix is on the right.” I was amazed at how knowledgeable this kid was!

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Dr. Jennifer Ho, hospitalist

Q: What’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A: From a 3-year-old girl: “I want to be a doctor like you … but only for unicorns and fairies.”

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Dr. Andrew Mower, neurologist

Q: What’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A: “I don’t eat apples, doctor.”

“Why?”

“Because they keep the doctor away, and I like you, Dr. Mower.”

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Dr. Laura Totaro, hospitalist

Q: What’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A: I was examining the mouth of my patient when he proudly showed me his loose tooth and whispered to me that his family had a secret. He then excitedly admitted that his mom was the tooth fairy!  His mother looked at me quizzically and then burst out laughing when she realized what had taken place. Earlier she had admitted to him that she played the role of tooth fairy at home but her son took this quite literally and believed it to actually be her secret full time job for all children.

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Dr. Mustafa Kabeer, general and thoracic surgeon

Q: What’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A: A patient asked me what my first name was, and I told him it was Mustafa. He then promptly told me that was the name of his pet lizard!

doctor's day
Dr. Taraman, pictured with his apparent doppelgängers, Linguini from “Ratatouille” and Flint Lockwood from “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

Dr. Sharief Taraman, neurology

Q: What’s the funniest thing a patient has ever told you?

A: One of my patients told me that I look like the character Flint Lockwood from Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and another one thinks I look like the character Linguini from the movie Ratatouille, both of which I found very funny.  Apparently, I give off the nerdy guy vibe.

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Are Laundry Packets Really That Dangerous?

A recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Ophthalmology stated that an increasing number of toddlers are suffering eye burns as a result of coming into contact with laundry packets. We spoke to Dr. Kenneth Kwon, director of pediatric emergency services at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital, about what parents should know about this hidden household danger.

Q: Are laundry packets a serious danger to children? Should parents be concerned?

A:  Yes, they are a serious danger. The colorful and candy-like appearance of these packets makes them particularly attractive and dangerous to children.

Q: There are many products in a typical home that could be harmful if accidentally ingested. Where do laundry packets fall on the scale?

A:  On a scale of 1 to 10, with ingesting cyanide or a poison causing death in minutes considered a ten, the chemicals in these laundry packets would be an 8. Standard liquid household detergents, such as bleach, would be considered a 3 or 4. However, due to the concentrated nature of the chemicals in these laundry packets, they are much more likely to cause serious injury in a very short period of time if ingested. These liquids are alkali in nature and are considered caustic substances, similar to acidic chemicals. The public may be under the misconception that alkali chemicals are less dangerous than acidic chemicals, but when ingested, alkali chemicals tend to cause much deeper and serious injuries to the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract than acidic substances.

Q: Another common injury stemming from laundry packets is eye burns. Why are eyes so susceptible to damage? What treatment can parents do at home?

A:  Eyes are particularly susceptible because children tend to bite into or try to open these packets, and contents can very easily splash into the eyes causing burns to the cornea and surrounding parts of the eye. The cornea, which is the top layer of the eye, has little to no blood supply, which can impair or limit healing, leading to permanent vision problems. The most common symptoms of an eye burn are pain, redness, tearing and vision problems. If you suspect that your child may have an eye burn, irrigate the area under cold running water for at least ten minutes and then take the child immediately to the ED for further irrigation and treatment.

Q: Children often get into laundry packets, or other household chemicals, when left unattended only for a moment. What are the warning signs parents should be aware of that their child has ingested something dangerous?

A:  Commons signs include difficult or painful swallowing, drooling, oral pain, chest or abdominal pain, vomiting, excessive crying, or breathing or speech problems.

Q: How can parents know what to treat at home versus when to seek emergency medical care?

A:  If known or suspected exposure to laundry packets with any symptoms, bring your child immediately to the ED. If the eye is involved, irrigate with running water for at least 10 minutes before transport. Administration of a neutralizing or diluting agent is not recommended for a suspected ingestion. If possible exposure to an opened packet with no symptoms, call Poison Control at 800-222-1222 for further direction.

Q: What can parents do to prevent their children from getting their hands on laundry packets or other chemicals or medication in the home?

A:  The best prevention is elimination of laundry packets from the home. Since there are so many cleaning detergent alternatives available, why even introduce laundry packets into the home at all if you have small children?  If these packets are in the home, make sure to keep them high up in overhead cabinets in the laundry room out of reach of children. Certainly avoid storing these packets in the kitchen or pantry area, as they can easily be mistaken for food or candy. Lastly, periodically check your house to make sure that dangerous medications and chemicals are safely out of reach of toddlers and children. Childproofing the home should occur as regularly as cleaning your home.

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Meet Dr. Kenneth Kwon

CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Kenneth Kwon, a pediatric emergency medicine specialist. Dr. Kwon attended medical school at Columbia University. He completed an internship at UCLA, a pediatric residency at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, and an emergency medicine residency at UC Irvine. He has been on staff at CHOC for eleven years and currently serves as director of pediatric emergency services and Chief of Staff elect at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital.

Dr. Kenneth Kwon

Q: What are your special clinical interests?
A: Pediatric trauma and injury prevention.

Q: What are your most common diagnoses?
A: Fractures, head injuries, lacerations, febrile illnesses, and abdominal pain.

Q: What would you most like community/referring providers to know about you/your division at CHOC?
A: We are a comprehensive general emergency department and trauma center with an emphasis on pediatric and family-centered care. We have pediatric-friendly facilities including a pediatric waiting area and Child Life services, and we have the resources of a children’s hospital in our building and at our fingertips.

Q:  What inspires you most about the care being delivered here at CHOC?
A: CHOC is on the forefront regionally and nationally when it comes to patient safety and quality care, and that is not more evident than in the emergency department. I have worked in over ten emergency departments in my career, and I can safely say that the ED at CHOC at Mission is top-notch when it comes to timeliness and scope of care, facilities and staff.

Q: Why did you decide to become an emergency medicine physician?

A: During pediatric residency, I was particularly interested in high acuity care. I was deciding between neonatal/pediatric intensive care and pediatric emergency medicine. But I missed treating adults and the elderly, so I decided to pursue a second residency in emergency medicine. Now I get the best of both worlds, which is treating high acuity patients of all ages, with a particular emphasis on children.

Q: If you weren’t a physician, what would you be and why?
A: I would have become a music producer. I’ve always loved music and even dabbled as a disc jockey in college. I was never good at singing or dancing.

Q: What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
A: Golf, family time, listening to obscure 80’s one-hit wonders, and sampling local microbrews.

Q: What was the funniest thing a patient told you?
A: An adage in pediatric emergency care is when a child comes in with a nosebleed, you don’t ask if he picks his nose, you ask him which finger he uses. When I asked this question to one of my pint-sized patients, he answered that he used all of them, and then proceeded to demonstrate by sticking each of his 10 fingers in his nose individually. It was priceless.

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