NEW YORK, NY – An inpatient medical team at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital was horrified to find out the very troubling news that one of their new patients, 36-year-old Alan Bassen, was admitted last night for the evaluation and management of constipation, and that constipation is now an admitting diagnosis apparently.
“Hello, my name is Alan,” said Bassen with a slow arc of a hand wave. “My name is Alan and I’m constipated.”
“So?” responded intern Katherine James, unimpressed and annoyed. “Who isn’t?”
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of many hospitals across the nation dealing with the bloating epidemic of constipation admissions. According to recent numbers published in a special issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) called “The Poop Scoop,” 100% of humanity has not had a recent good bowel movement. “Humanity is in dire need of a potent bowel prep,” the paper further noted, “otherwise it is in danger of perforation.” The issue of constipation is making everyone – patients and providers alike – a little bit queasy and nauseous.
“That’s it?!” exclaimed Jason Ferrell in disbelief. Ferrell is the jaded third-year medical resident on the team. He took a few minutes to calm himself before asking his patient a few more questions. “Mr. Bassen, are you having any belly pain?”
“Nausea, vomiting, bloody stool?” Ferrell pressed further.
“Fevers, weight loss, anything?” begged Ferrell, looking for a reason to justify this patient being in the hospital. “Anything at all?!”
“Just a little constipation,” Bassen responded, while happily munching on some Cheerios. “It’s been a few days. But don’t worry, I’m still passing gas.”
Ferrell, James, and team were further shocked when a dedicated chart biopsy revealed nothing. Nada. Zilch. Diddly squat. Vital signs and labs were within normal limits. His abdominal exam was completely benign. If anything, it revealed that the patient was very ticklish. Outside of that, Bassen was completely normal. In fact, Bassen was so normal that the ED didn’t even check a troponin. Yet somehow he was admitted anyway.
“It boggles my mind,” commented nurse Linda Roberts, who is caring for seven constipated but otherwise asymptomatic patients, including Bassen. “They’re nice and all, but my job has been reduced to this: Colace, Senna, and enemas. My dream come true.”
Until further notice, admitting providers have to accept the reality of modern medicine: constipation is a reason for admission.
“Constipation is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in society and should always be admitted, no ifs ands or buts,” said no one ever. “In fact, these patients should be intubated and sent to the [intensive care] unit. ‘Intubate ’til you defecate.’ That’s what I always say.”