Almost 10 years ago to the month, I was a newly qualified junior doctor, working in Oxford’s major teaching hospital, the John Radcliffe. On one of my first on-call shifts, a characteristically busy Saturday evening, I was summoned to the ward by a kindly Filipino nurse. She was distressed about a patient, an elderly man delirious with infection, who was shouting racial slurs at the nursing staff.
“How are you feeling today, sir?” I asked with a cheerful, if insincere, lilt.
“I’m not arrogant, I’m English, which is more than I can say for you, you black bastard!” he replied with equal buoyancy.
I considered a cheeky retort but opted instead for a wry smile and a gentle dose of lorazepam to settle the matter quickly. I scurried away, more patients to see and blood tests to review before handover to the night team.
Lorazepam, sold under the brand name Ativan among others, is a benzodiazepine medication. It is used to treat anxiety disorders, trouble sleeping, active seizures including status epilepticus, alcohol withdrawal, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
A cheerful shout of you black bastard gets you drugged into submission?
Or, to put a better face on the action, a shout of you black bastard is evidence of being so unaware of yourself and surroundings through illness that treatment is required?