Doctors Faint, Too!

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Syncope, a temporary loss of consciousness caused by a fall in blood pressure, is more commonly known as fainting. Fainting can have a number of causes such as anxiety, intense emotional stress, hunger, etc., however vasovagal syncope is specifically caused by emotional stress or the sight of blood. Though it is often an innocuous occurrence that a number of people experience, doctors are often expected to stay calm, cool, and collected in stressful situations and under pressure.

But we know that doctors are humans too, so we asked SERMO physicians if they had ever experienced an episode of vasovagal syncope. Doctors shared some of their personal experiences with fainting:

“I faint at the sight of blood, specifically my blood.” – Hematology Oncology

 “I definitely vagal. Needle sticks to me are a trigger. I always tell people who need to stick me to lay me down.” – Emergency Medicine

 “When I get gastroenteritis, I will occasionally vagal instead of vomiting. I have woken up having hit my head on the side of the toilet. I have thus far been lucky and not passed out into the toilet. Most recently, I rebroke my foot falling off a set of stairs. It hurt so bad I vagal’d.” – Urgent care Medicine

 If someone is drawing my blood, they have 2 chances. By the third one I’ll pass out. Better get it before then.” – Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

 “Ah, fainting. I began fainting when I was nine during a blood draw. Overcoming fainting was part of my medical training. Perhaps the most embarrassing episode was the first — a group of us med students were led into a patient’s room while the attending spoke to the patient. Simply entering the room… and I was down. Then there were the first blood draws, the first surgery… But the miracle of exposure cured me.” – Psychiatry

 “As a premed, I watched a cardiac puncture on a rabbit in the basement animal room, then went to the 8th floor lab and fainted.” – Infectious Disease

 “In my junior year of med school, I had several episodes of near-syncope when witnessing any procedure that caused discomfort to the patient, even just drawing blood or starting an IV.” – Internal Medicine

 “Yeah. Ended my budding career as an orthopedic surgeon. About 20 minutes into a hip replacement, I go vagal.” – Family Medicine

 “I have hit the dirt more often than any patient I have ever had. I also cough for weeks after a cold. The allergist says I am not allergic to anything, I am just too vagal.” – Pediatrics

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