working at the pointy end

Sorry about the delay in writing, I’ve been trying to get a job back in Ireland to go over and see Miss GreenEyes and have had to present a paper at a conference, which has taken the majority of my time recently…


I haven’t been able to write about this for a while because it has been in the media here in recent times. Some things also take a bit of time to put into perspective as well.

Seeing horrible things now and then is part-and-parcel with working in the Emergency Dept. but in an adult ED it is often easier to put things into context, believe that the person somehow deserved what happened to them – you know, ‘sure they were speeding’ or ‘no doubt they were involved in drugs too’, that sort of thing. It’s a bit different when it’s a child; as I found out. I was sitting in the corridor chatting to a little patient who had hurt their finger when one of the nurses walked past quickly.

‘Ben we have a trauma coming in.’

‘Oh, ok’ (rare in itself in a Paediatric department) ‘What is it?’

She just gave a grim little smile and kept walking.

‘How long till they’re here?’ I asked to her retreating back.

’10 minutes.’

I wandered into resus after apologising to the sore finger kiddy that it may be a little while till I get back to them. The nurses and my boss were already in there priming intravenous fluids and writing details on the board about the child’s assumed weight, drug dosages, equipment sizes.etc This usually indicates something a little more serious than falling off one’s bicycle.

‘Er, what’s coming in?’

‘2 year-old, multiple stab wounds’

My heart sank. This doesn’t happen often at all.

As per normal, we set the room up and waited until they arrived. The double doors into resus looked out along the corridor to the waiting room where the other patients could look in, only to see a bunch of people standing around all gloved and gowned. The last thing they saw before we slammed the doors shut, was a little bloody body being rushed from the ambulance into the resus room.

She was so very small and covered in blood – the metallic smell quickly filling the room. Her little head was bruised and bloody, there were stab wounds over her neck and chest, but she was conscious, breathing well and stable which was an ideal starting point. She had IV lines inserted, fluids started and the surgeons attended promptly. When we looked her over, she was not only stabbed but also beaten soundly. Four stab wounds in the head, three in the neck, one on the front of her chest and another five in her back. There was a big boot mark on her arm.

We found out that her estranged father had come to the family home and attacked her and her mother. She had obviously been shielded somewhat by her mother who was also horribly injured in the attack. We ended up ventilating her on life support and performed CAT scans looking for internal injuries.

Mercifully, her wounds were superficial and there were no severe injuries. Her mother also survived the attack relatively unscathed (physically anyway). For the next few weeks we had police and security camped in our emergency department and wanted posters of the father from his previous domestic violence arrests pinned in the doctor’s area. There was uniform fear that he would come to the hospital to try and finish the job.

He still remains at large to this day.


~ by Dr Ben on December 13, 2007.

5 Responses to “working at the pointy end”

  1. oh wow. that poor little girl, is she ok now? I can’t begin to imagine how the mother must have flet trying to shield her daughter from stab wounds….

  2. The thought of what went on in their house and the terror they must have felt is awful. Thankfully, both mother and child are well, with no long-lasting injuries. Stabbings are still pretty rare here (in my city anyway) but it’s even rarer when it involves a 2 year-old.

  3. Thanks for writing. That poor baby girl and her mother. Imagine having one of your parents try to kill you, it’s sickening.

    Enjoy Eire again, hope it works out with green eyes.

  4. nice blog you have here:D

  5. Hey David, my name is also David R, and i was wondering, since it looks like your not doing too much with this blog at the moment, if i could maybe ha Click

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