A pitchfork to the head

A young patient sustains a serious injury while playing with his brother.

A pitchfork to the head
A pitchfork to the head

The year was about 1985, and I was a nurse in an ICU. We had gotten a call from an outlying hospital saying they were sending a 12-year-old patient with a puncture wound to the eye. When the patient arrived in the ER, we were all shocked by his appearance. 

The patient and his brother were horsing around in a barn. His brother had picked up a pile of hay with a pitchfork and threw the hay at the patient. But when he did, the pitchfork came off the handle. The pitchfork tong had gone into the patient's eye in the corner near his nose, through his skull and exited at the top of his head. Several inches of the tong protruded above his skull.

A neurosurgeon was called and after necessary testing, the patient was taken to the operating room. The pitchfork was scrubbed with bedtadine surgical scrub. The pitchfork tong was then slowly retracted, probably with the use of fluoroscopy. Afterwards he became my patient in the ICU. 

The patient was awake and alert upon waking up. He was given prophylactic antibiotics and discharged in a few days. He had no neurological impairment. This was before HIPAA, and he made the hospital newspaper. I still have the article and picture of him in the ER with the pitchfork tong sticking out the top of his head.

Vicky Mabry, APN, is from Little Rock, Ark.
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