Internship diaries- To dilate or not to?

This is the story from when I was posted in the most hectic Out Patient Department (OPD) of the hospital, RETINA. Since we have different departments with different expertise, we send patients from one department to another for opinion. This is the phase where we were always confused about whether to dilate or not to dilate.


Once there were two siblings with retinal dystrophies, checked in at the Retina department. As it is the first visit, patients were dilated for retina evaluation. Then, called for another follow-up for a Low Vision evaluation (because they had low visual acuity and can not be treated by spectacles). I was the intern at the department and examined those siblings in the follow-up visit. As it is a common thing to evaluate retina in retina OPD, I dilated them. After the patient left to waiting hall, I have re-read the history, only to realise that I was not supposed to dilate. I just have to send them to Low vision assessment after a basic vision and pressure measurement.

I slowly reached out to the consultant and told her about the mistake with fear. She questioned – Who would pay for the travel expenses of those poor patients for another visit? I was in utter silence for a minute. That really made me feel dumb, I almost broke. 

After some time, the consultant explained why not to dilate these patients and asked me to take the patients to the low vision department and give them an appointment for a later date. That will be my punishment. I apologised to the patient in front of the consultant, took them to the Low vision department and gave them an appointment.

Ever since this happened, I always clearly read the history of the patient and then decide to dilate.


  • Accept your mistakes- The student has gone to the consultant and informed the mistake. We can only learn to correct the mistakes, once we identify and accept that the mistake has happened.
  • Ask for the corrections- Some mistakes definitely have solutions that can return the situations to normal. Hence it’s always best to accept the mistake and ask for a solution from the seniors around you. If it does not have any solution, make a note of the mistake in your mind and notebook. Make sure you ever repeat it.


To read another Internship story – Thinking out of the box