She Was Headed to a Locked Psych Ward. Then an ER Doctor Made a Startling Discovery


From The Washington Post: For six years, 23-year-old Chloe R. Kral had been diagnosed and treated for a variety of mental health problems, taking medication and undergoing a six-month, $180,000 stay at a facility that provided intensive psychotherapy. Nothing seemed to help much, and she developed an array of physical symptoms ranging from poor coordination to incontinence, but these were attributed to her worsening “mental illness.” Finally, when she was in four point restraints in the back of a police car about to be transferred to a mental hospital, on a hunch, the attending ER physician ordered a brain scan that ended up revealing the life-threatening condition behind her symptoms: hydrocephalus, or “water on the brain.”

“‘I was speechless,’ [the ER physician] said. ‘All I could think was “How did no one figure this out?”‘

‘It’s a cautionary tale,’ [neurosurgeon Ray M. Chu] observed. ‘People get pigeonholed’ if they have a psychiatric diagnosis.”

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  1. Thanks for the summary. Was wondering the diagnosis. Stopped paying for the Wash Post due to usually poor coverage of psychiatry. Saw the headline on Google but did not get through pay wall to read “encephalitis.”

    Psychiatry is the devil. The burden and costs are far too great.

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