Being Curious – Doctor’s Bag

doctor's bag

I was reading at Patient Plus an article of what to put in the Doctor’s Bag and I wonder:

In the past, the vast majority of doctors used a Doctor’s Bag, in fact there are museums with different kinds of Doctor’s Bags… but things are changing.

Some physicians still use a Doctor’s Bag to deal with all the medical stuff like stethoscope, diagnostic sets, aneroid sphygmomanometer, thermometer, drugs and depending on your speciality or practice, other usefull things.

Do you carry a doctor’s bag?

What do you have in there?

If you don’t carry a bag, what do you carry allways (mobile phone, PDA, lab coat, scrubs, handbooks)?

Thank you for your answers and regards,

Dr. Jon Mikel Iñarritu

6 thoughts on “Being Curious – Doctor’s Bag”

  1. I am a surgeon in Poland, born and raised in the U.S., parents from Poland. I work in the capital Warsaw, about 1.5 million people, but I make house calls just because most doctors don’t!! I do a lot of free housecalls for children (I never charge a parent of a child-but that’s just me) and I treat a lot of priests and nuns, also free. I have to admit, surgeons NEVER make housecalls, not in any country that I’ve ever seen. I enjoy it, and my “pay” is usually a nice meal, just like it was back in the 1800’s!! I’m a 21st Century surgeon with 19th century values, I know, I’m weird, but I make enough doing Plastic Surgery so this is fullfilling for me. There are a few GP’s in Poland that do make house calls.

    I carry a cell phone and a NOKIA N810 instead of a PDA, I have full Internet access thru it and SKYPE Telephone also, here in Poland every McDonalds has free WiFi, so I find I am always near a WiFi signal. I can also put any book on it that I can get on a SD card. Got tired of the limits of PDA’s, N810 very versatile. I find as I get more experienced, I carry less books and reference stuff with me, I guess it’s just more confidence I’ve built, but it’ll still sound like a lot to most who read this.

    As far as drugs and equipment, I carry stuff I use a lot from experience, like Epi, Lidocaine, Rocephin, Haldol, Codeine in some form, Phenergan, other antibiotics, tiny pulse oximeter, portable doppler (for pregnant patients), a computer based EKG that I plug into my N810, ASPIRIN (very important), Tiny Mag-Lite Flashlight, Welych-Allyn mini-oto/ophthalmoscope, stethoscope, BP Cuff, syringes, needles, alcohol foam, gloves, some surgical instruments (of course) prescription pad, spare scrubs and other stuff. I know, it sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t.. I’ve seen docs with tons more.

    I carry my stuff in a Bianchi Tactical Backpack (company from California) as a backpack is far easier and more comfortable than a traditional doctors bag, plus when it’s snowing and cold, it’s a LOT more comfortable. Full pack with the stuff I have in it weighs less than 5 kg.

  2. I don’t know any physician that carries medicines and such things with them. I think it has to do with our societal differences, but I do like the idea of doing that and making housecalls. Sadly, I think that is not an option in our society. Perhaps, if I moved to a rural area it would be possible, but in they city they work us like factory workers who are just as anxious to get home and away from work when it is over. Sadly.

  3. Thanks for your comment here Dr. W.


    It is interesting to see how people (specially physicians) try to carry the minor number of stuff.

    The simple and easy-to-carry thing is useful than carry lots of things.

  4. Thank you for your comment Moto.

    I always carry with me, my PDA (iSilo books, skyscape programs, epocrates, feed reader, sandford guide), my cellphone, my bluetooth headset, my stethoscope, a little diagnostic set, sphygmomanometer, Ambu face mask, Rx pad and a 3-in-1 pen.

    I also try to carry some useful drugs in case of emergency, like epinephrine, nitrates, antihistamines, hydrocortisone, furosemide, aspirin, nitrates and NSAIDs.

    All this stuff I carry is secure at my car trunk, where besides this I carry a set of scrubs, comfortable shoes and a lab coat.

    Lots of doctors in Mexico make house calls. I don’t, but n case that there is an emergency where I am (restaurant, movie theater, street, own house), I will be able to do something while the services of emergency arrive.

    Off the record: I’ve assisted many unknow people at the street while passing by.

  5. I carry a bag, but it is only a doctor’s bag inasmuch that it is being carried by a doctor !

    Anyway, the things I carry ALWAYS include my PDA, two or three pens (all black ink), spare blank progress notes, spare blank d/c summary forms, stethoscope, reflex hammer, handful of safety pins, and a penlight.

    That’s it!

  6. I have three “doctor bags” that I alternate between depending on what I’m doing. Whether I’m using one of them or not carrying any of them at all, I always carry my PDA (with Epocrates Essentials, Harrison’s, the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Med Calc and all the many PDA medical programs), cellphone, beeper, stethascope, penlight, iPod, business cards, an all metal parker jotter, and a Rx pad.

    The first bag is the traditional family physician’s (or GP for you non-Colonials) little black leather bag. I use this when I only have a few things to carry with me like a procedure book, an otoscope/opthalmascope, a call log and a few records. Throw in a few scalpes, forceps etc to round out the collection.

    If i’m going to be doing a lot of teaching/studying then I’ll take my briefcase. I’ll dump in the stuff from the doctor’s bag plus have room for journals, charts, a laptop, and even Harrison’s if I’m really ambitious. It is bigger, not for medical stuff, but for paperwork and studying purposes.

    Finally, if I’m going to be on call, or a medical mission or something more indepth, then I’ll take a duffle bag that’s made for world travel. It fits everything I’ve mentioned above plus room for many sets of scrubs, extra clothes, extra shoes, a few textbooks, powercords and adapters for my PDA, cellphone and iPod, bottles of water, energy bars / power food etc. Again, nothing more “medical,” just study materials and survival gear.

    Most doctors in the US don’t use doctor’s bags (except neurologists). We don’t make house calls. We don’t tend to carry charts with us. All medications, equipment and such are in the clinics. Most insurances don’t even cover you when you’re not in the hospital or your clinic. Since all patients are seen in a clinic or hospital, there is no reason to carry a lot of medical supplies on our person. I’m interested in those working in countries where physicians do carry their equipment with them.

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