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Doctor’s Humor Not Funny to Hospital Administration

June 30, 1989

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A young doctor who jokingly taped a bandage marked ″Do not attempt to resuscitate″ on the head of an injured drifter was ordered Thursday to perform 100 hours of service at a clinic for the homeless.

Officials at Humana Hospital of Louisville said the doctor apparently was trying to poke fun at the hapless condition of Lewis Woodard when he taped the message to the patient’s head.

″I was irate,″ said Sister Mary Kathleen Sheehan, the director of St. John’s Day Center, where Woodard stays. ″Suppose he had an asthma attack and that thing was on his head. He just lies there and dies. ... A lot of people are upset about it, to say the least.″

Woodard was taken to the emergency room by ambulance early June 15 after being bashed on the head with a brick by a man he had been drinking with on the street.

After his wounds were stitched and dressed, Woodard was released from the hospital wearing the bandage.

Dr. Donald Kmetz, dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, announced Thursday that the doctor would have to donate 100 hours of community service at St. John’s to complete his three-year residency in emergency medicine at the hospital.

Student-privacy laws prohibit release of the doctor’s name, uiversity spokeswoman Carol Bennett said.

David Glaspie, administrator of the clinic, said the free help would be welcome. The clinic currently has one doctor who puts in four hours three days a week and a podiatrist who treats foot problems for two hours one day a week.

″It’ll be a big benefit,″ Glaspie said.

The notation used by the doctor on the bandage is ordinarily used only for terminally ill patients who have asked doctors not to to keep them alive with life-support machines if they fall unconscious.

Woodard, 52, had made no such request.

Dr. Salvator Vicario, residency director for emergency medicine, said the doctor had put about 60 stitches into Woodard’s head wounds and had done the job well.

″He did everything from a medical point of view absolutely correctly,″ Vicario said. ″I think he was just frustrated.″

″It was a joke. ... He (the doctor) was feeling some burnout,″ said Glaspie, who said he received a report on the investigation from hospital officials.

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