Knife in man's back for 3 years

NewImageBilly McNeely of Canada's Northwest Territories was scratching his back when he noticed a pointy protrusion. Turned out to be the tip of a 7.5cm knife blade that was stuck in his back. For three years. Back in 2010, McNeely was stabbed in a brawl following an arm wrestling match. Since then, his back set off prison metal detectors and he's had pain, but he claims that physicians told him it was nerve damage caused by the injury. From BBC News:
But this week, McNeely, 32, was scratching his back as usual when his fingernail caught on something. His girlfriend took a look.

"I told Billy: 'There's a knife sticking out of your back.' I was scared. I was ready to pull it out with tweezers," Stephanie Sayine told CBC News.

McNeely is considering whether to file a lawsuit against the local health department.

"Knife taken from Billy McNeely's back after three years"



  1. “McNeely is considering whether to file a lawsuit against the local health department.”

    If the health dept cannot fund an x ray machine or have comprehensible benefits for its doctors (eye glasses), then what’s the point?! :)

    1. Considering the guy admitted he’s been in and out of jail several times, it’s not unreasonable to assume he doesn’t have access to quality medical facilities. 

      Best he can probably get is a blood pressure test and maybe some stitches if it’s bleeding really  bad.

        1. See “Northwest Territories.” Canada has (largely) free healthcare, yes. Doesn’t mean the service coverage is equal across the country, and generally, the farther north you go, the less coverage you see. 

          To wit: The stabbing incident took place Fort Good Hope (population: 567), a largely First Nations community. If you’re curious, look up the stats on life expectancy for First Nations vs. Canadian average as a whole. “Undeprivileged” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

  2. A little off-topic, but since when do news organizations refer to non-famous people in the headline by name?

    Knife taken from Billy McNeely’s back after three years

    Was I the only one who wondered whether I was supposed to know who Billy McNeely is?

    1. Billy McNeely, the one who was stabbed at an arm wrestling match and has been in prison a couple times.  Everyone knows him….

      1. He’s notable because his girlfriend, Stephanie Sayine, is legendary among amateur surgeons.  Give her tweezers and she’ll remove anything for you!

    2. It’s the Northwest Territories, yo!  “Northwest Territories” might as well be his last name – they all know each other!

  3. So whats the over under on time lapsed before someone makes the predictable this is what you voted for comments?

  4. Yes, in Canada, an xray would have been covered by healthcare. So why wasn’t he sent for an xray that almost certainly would have revealed the broken blade? Do we know for sure that a doctor hadn’t recommended one, but he decided against it?

    1.  Whoops, mis-click there.
      Resident of Ontario, so take my comment as it is. While health care is universally provided, the fellow is from the NWT, so there may not be the facilities. Although, I would hope they’d ship him out to Alberta or the like if they suspected he had a knife in his back….

  5. not exactly the same thing, but I was struck by a car once; about a month later, I was getting dressed when my hand caught on something.  there was what looked to be a small jewel set into my elbow’s skin.  it was a fragment of car window.  i popped it out and there was a divot that healed over in a day or two, that was it.  no blood or anything.

        1. I was nearly killed many times by an impala when I was a child, although that was mostly because of the drunk driving. The convertible part was fun though.

      1.  wasn’t me.  i’m more or less a computer noob, ~6 years with any kind of online presence, mostly just here, and I just lurked like half the time.

  6. I hate to say it, but there seems to be a trend in healthcare: never, ever do an X-Ray unless the patient is paying for it. I remember people having all sorts of scans back in the ’80s just to clarify the smallest doubt; not anymore. Did the price of a scan increase with time?

    1. People having all sorts of scans just to clarify the smallest doubt is neither medically nor financially justifiable. That’s not to say that insurance companies and cost concerns haven’t changed the face of medicine, but doctors are also being taught to be more prudent with tests and imaging that’s won’t necessarily reveal anything or change the clinical management.

      That being said, the emergency doc definitely should have ordered an x-ray when the guy came with multiple stab wounds, no doubt about that. But the general practitioner? I don’t think so.

      1. So it’s ok to scan for “clear emergencies”, but anything below that threshold doesn’t qualify? This is how we get undiagnosed cancers and pathologies evolving into chronic illnesses because they’re not properly dealt with.

        I’m speaking from a UK/European perspective, where cost-cutting is now The Priority for any public service, but to me it seems we’re just finding all sorts of excuses to step back into the XIX century.

        1.  No, I’m not advocating a dichotomy between emergencies and everything else. This is also clearly a completely different scenario from a cancer. In any case, you have to look at the entire clinical picture before deciding what studies to order. Shot-in-the-dark random imaging generally doesn’t add benefit, and in some cases can cause harm via false positives or equivocal results that turn out to be nothing after aggressive work up and/or treatment. And any study involving exposure to radiation (albeit in minute amounts) is not benign.

          In this particular case, the article said the man experienced minor pain and itching. If someone came to my practice and said, “I was stabbed in the back a while ago and now I experience minor pain and itching,” I’d already be thinking, “Yeah? Take some Aleve.” If my subsequent physical exam revealed no neurologic deficits, no decreased range of motion, and I didn’t see any knife sticking out, I definitely wouldn’t order an x-ray.

  7. Sorry, I’m calling shenanigans on this.  The physics just doesn’t add up.  I’m assuming this is a push-button blade of some kind.  But, how did the handle get under the skin far enough to lose a nearly 3″ blade.  And, for the blade to be just below the surface of the skin enough to eventually work its way out.  

    1. Could have gone in at an angle, eg the guy on his left tried stabbing him in the neck, missed and drove the blaed into his back on a shallow path. It was a drunken barfight, there’s no guarantee of logical positionimg and good hand eye coordination.

    2.  I was shuffling my stocking feet across the carpet to build up some static so I could shock my brother, when I cut my foot on something.  It hurt a lot, so I pulled off my sock and found a tiny piece of glass sticking out the bottom of my foot.  I tried to pull it out, but it wouldn’t come out.  Too much resistance.  So I realized it was in there sideways.  So I pulled sideways, and it kept coming and coming out.  The shard was 3 inches long and had gone in parallel to the skin.  Only an 8th of an inch was showing.  I had no idea there was that much glass in my foot.

  8. FWIW another data point. There was a case in which a woman had a complaint about a pain in her neck. Turns out it was a nail that had gotten kicked by a car on the highway and pierced the woman’s neck without her realizing.

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