Now retired in Granbury, doctor tells ER stories in his book.
Dr. Barna Richards has treated gunshot victims, kids with a bean in their ear, heart patients and even performed his first C-section in the emergency room.
Richards recounts the touching moments, as well as the humorous ones, in his book “44 Years in the ER.”
In one chapter, the doctor recalls a young man who came into the ER with blood all over his shirt.
“I raked around on his chest and couldn’t find a wound anywhere,” he said.
A nurse came into the room and noticed a small wound just below the man’s hairline.
“We later found out that his wife came home and caught him with another woman. She put a .22-caliber pistol to his head,” Richards said.
“The bullet penetrated the skin, traveled around the bone and lodged at the base of his skull. It never pierced his skull.” Shaking his head, the doctor said, “This had to be one of the luckiest men in world!”
Richards, now retired and living in Granbury, joined other local authors for a book signing at the Writers Bloc seminar Saturday morning held at the Waterview clubhouse.
Richards began his medical career in the Metroplex in 1963, before emergency medicine was a specialty. As an intern at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Richards moonlighted in the ER for minimum wage.
“About a dollar an hour,” he recalled.
Even after he entered practice, he continued working in the ER field to make extra money.
“I could work the ER all I wanted in private hospitals because the more sane, private doctors wanted no part of the emergency room,” Richards grinned and said.
He remembers calling the obstetrician on call one night when a lady came to the ER needing a C-section.
“He didn’t want to come in, and said I could do it with help from the second year guy,” Richards said.
After the incision was made, Richards said he had never seen so much blood.
After suctioning the blood, Richards said everything become clear and the procedure was a success. “The mother and baby did fine,” he added.
During his career, Richards said some of the worst cases involved young people with trauma. “Teenagers sometimes do stupid things,” he said sadly.
He added that shaken babies were also hard to deal with.
“You see all kinds of things in the ER,” Richards said. “But, you know, the ER exists to save lives.”
He has no idea how many thousands of stitches he has given, and estimates he’s seen half a million patients. He’s delivered lots of babies, including one in an elevator.
While in practice, Richards saw about 50 patients every day. “I even worked Saturdays,” he said.
He is both pleased and amazed how new technology has changed the medical field.
“In the early days, everything was a clinical diagnosis,” the doctor said. Patients answered questions so the doctor could diagnose the problem.
“We had X-rays, but that was it,” he smiled and said.
“Now there’s ultrasound, CAT scans, MRIs, flexible endoscopy, and the list goes on,” he noted. “All wonderful advances.”
On a humorous note, Richards recalled a female patient who said she had a bug in her ear.
“Her husband claimed there was absolutely no way that she had a bug in her ear,” Richards said.
When examining her ear, a moth flew out.
“Her skeptical husband exclaimed, ‘Well, I’ll be damned!” Richards said with a chuckle.
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