Friday, November 2, 2012

What Happens to the Knife After the Doctor Removes It?

I was wondering...if a patient comes into the ER with, say, a switchblade stuck in him, what happens to the switchblade after the doctors/nurses remove it and patch him up?

Here's my take--
In the Great Midwest, the switchblade removal/chain of custody depends on where in the hospital the knife is taken out.
In surgery, the knife goes to pathology to be claimed.
In ER, if the cops are there and weapon is removed, it can go to them. I'd check with your local hospital-- many have media departments (yes, you are media!)
Unless the stabee wants to press charges against the stabber, the police may not be involved if there’s no felony assault or death. We see this sometimes in domestic abuse/ fights.
Genuine switchblades (not a pocketknife) may be illegal.

Is there a central location in the hospital where the belongings of unconscious patients are stored? Or do the belongings follow the patient to whatever room he ends up in?
Depends on the belonging(s). In the ER, guns go in a safe until the cops arrive. It’s illegal to bring a weapon into the ER.
The hospital has a safe for stuff like jewelry.
The pharmacy takes custody of meds patients bring in with them.
If a patient goes to surgery, belongings go in a big plastic bag that goes with the patient. Sometimes things get lost—glasses and dentures are on that list. The biggest thing I’ve seen lost was a patient’s prosthetic leg!

Kelly has worked in the medical field for over twenty years, mainly at large medical centers. With experience in a variety of settings, chances are Kelly may have seen it.

Sometimes truth seems stranger than fiction in medicine, but accurate medicine in fiction is fabulous.
Find her fiction at


  1. I don't write medical suspense novels, but, gosh, after reading many of your posts, I think I could with the information you provide here.

    I learn something new everytime I come here.

    Thanks for opening up a world I knew nothing about -- unless we're talking from a patient's pov of view. :-)

    MM Pollard

  2. Thanks, MM.
    That's the goal--to help nonmedical people write realistic medical scenes. Glad you learned something!
    Cheers, Kelly