‘The out of hours doctor says he has an infection…’
I had heard the story before. Out of hours doctor, nighttime phone call, paucity of clinical information, no examination… antibiotics.
‘The urine was purple,’ said the nurse.
‘Beetroots?’ I asked
This was my first experience of Purple Urine Bag Syndrome.
At the time, I thought to myself, ‘Surely, if this is a thing I’d have heard about it.’
In 20-odd years running round hospital wards and tending to the needs of older people if there were such a syndrome/phenomenon I would have encountered it.
By the time I arrived to inspect the urine it had already started to fade to a dark-yellow.
‘It was purple yesterday, now it seems less so,’ explained the nurse.
I had already tapped ‘purple urine’ into my phone and been taken to the Wikipedia article.
Still suspicious, I conceded that the out of hours doc must have been right and agreed to continue with the Trimethoprim he prescribed (Wikipedia said Ciprofloxacin; as things had started to improve I opted to continue his prescription.)
I chalked this up to experience; adding ‘Review Purple Bladder…’ on my to-do list.
Now, tonight, leafing through the British Geriatrics Society Newsletter, I noticed a Tweet from @KeebleM (Maggie Keeble) ‘Just seen my first “Purple Urine Bag Syndrome”).
What is going-on?
I thought I knew things.
Isn’t that great?
You see, there is this thing called hubris.
It is when you think you know better than everyone else and it is impossible for you to be wrong.
David Owen, the 81-year-old former Foreign Secretary and physician, coined Hubris Syndrome in 2008. At the time he was reflecting on Thatcher and other UK and US leaders who lost-the-plot.
I have seen a few hubristic doctors over the years.
The purple urine reinforced my humility.