Extraneous Detail

Does colour matter?

John Robertson at “I like Curry” recently posted about a patient who’d swallowed some washing up liquid. Out of interest, as I have the same brand in my kitchen, I thought I’d have a look at the ingredients. All pretty dull, but for some reason the question I really wanted answered was; what colour/flavour did they swallow? This is the sort of extraneous detail that many of us write down on our patient report forms.

Patient was walking from the kitchen to the lounge when she tripped over the hall rug and banged her head on the small wooden telephone table. The patient wasn’t knocked out.

Nice narrative but is it all really necessary to help with a diagnosis?

How about:

mechanical fall, hit head on wooden object, no LOC.

(I’m sure some smarto will come up with something better).


When I first pitched up at BigTown as an ECP I had a call from a local crew. Would I mind popping round to see their patient? “He’s hurt his back bending over to pick up a large tin of paint.”
Feeling a touch mischievous. “What colour was it?”
“Hold on.” muffled voices “What colour was the paint?”
“Noooo. I was only joking.”
I got all the details and trundled round. The lady of the house greeted me at the door.
“It was green.”
“It was green.”
“What was?”
“The paint. It was green.”
“Oh thank goodness for that, if it had been blue we’d have been in real trouble.”


Over the years I’ve noticed that I, and many of my colleagues, often put irrelevant details down on the patient report forms.


    had been out to Tesco/cinema/relative’s house
    had lifted a large bag/sack of spuds/paint tin
    was in the lounge/bedroom/kitchen.

I know that’s what happened but it’s all unnecessary, well mostly…

I once went to help an elderly lady who’d fainted in Tesco. She was fine, just a little shaken and stirred.

“This is third time I’ve done this in here” she told me.
“Ever thought of shopping in Sainsbury then.” I quipped


I often wondered what Tesco stood for. Seeing as Amstrad stands for Alan M Sugar Trading I thought perhaps it was “something” company. Anyway, in the paper the other week there was a little “History of Tesco“. Started by a chap named Jack Cohen as a market stall. He then went on to sell his own brand of tea. The manufacturer of the tea was Mr T.E. Stockwell. So the brand name was Mr Stockwell’s initials and the first two letters of Jack’s surname: TESCO


5 Responses to Extraneous Detail

  1. I did actually ask him which variety of the washing-up liquid it was. It was the original, green variety as a matter of fact. I didn’t document this though…

  2. Mr P says:

    I was in Tesco a couple of weeks ago and asked a shelf stacking person where the milk had been moved to this week (it’s a cunning plan to make you walk all over the store).

    “Aisle C”, came the response.

    “No come on, I only asked where the milk was”

    “Aisle C”

    etc etc

  3. Millietant says:

    A colleague of mine, and a mind of useless information, told me that £1 out of every £7 that is spent in the country is spent at Tesco.
    Such is our conversations on slow days.
    The shifts fly by.
    Just thought i’d share that with you

  4. RobbieB says:

    Known what you mean about details on notes. but if its a verbal handover you say it was a dining chair she banged her head on as opposed to an armchair for height/size/construction shorthand – dont we do the same on paper (EPRF`s will be shorter -I hate typing!!)

  5. Ben says:

    Tesco is named after Tessa Cohen, the founder’s wife and mother of its best-known shareholder (or ex-shareholder), Shirley Porter.

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