Coughing Up Stuff

A twenty-something husband and wife come in to triage with URI symptoms x 18 hours.

“He’s very ill,” the wife said. “He’s been coughing up some yellow stuff and he’s had a fever of 99 degrees. I started him on some antibiotics but he’s not getting any better.”

When asked where she got the antibiotics, the wife reports she got them from a friend. She shows me a bottle of expired Clindamycin she had in her purse.  When asked if she is a nurse or doctor, she states that she is neither but is sure that the antibiotics should work.  I inform her that the symptoms are most likely viral and not bacterial so antibiotics will probably not work. She says, “Well he’s coughing up stuff so that means it’s bacterial. Can we just see a doctor, we are both very ill.”

They were seen and discharged about an hour later with a diagnosis of URI’s.

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