Saturday, September 1, 2007

Humble Pie

On my way home after going to the OR in the middle of the night, I was given a great big piece of humble pie. It was after three in the morning and driving home to get some sleep before the next days clinic I saw lots of red and blue lights on the interstate ahead of me. I slowed down and got in the farthest lane to avoid the accident. Out of the corner of my eye I saw an EMT laying on his belly trying to intubate a victim lying decorticate in the middle of the onramp. It was a horrible accident.

I pulled over and ran over to help. It was bad accident with the victim thrown from the vechicle and an obvious head injury. I identified myself as a physician to the police offer and felt for a pulse. There was none. The EMT was trying to suction lots of blood while another paramedic was holding in line traction. Lying on his belly in a pool of blood and mud in the middle of the night he was able to get a good tube, I listened for breath sounds and it was in. No pulse, we pumped chest, loaded him on a board, he was in the ambulance in minutes. The police moved in unison to clear the way and the ambulance sped off with victim to the trauma center with epi and atropine going down the et tube.

The speed, effiency and professionalism I saw was awe inspiring. This was the paramedics first accident out of training and he perfomed like it was another day in the park. The police and fireman work like a well experienced offensive line.

Somedays in the ER and OR with all the equipment and help we get to feel like heros because we saved a life. The life was saved well before we see them, by EMTs, paramedics, police and fireman, lying on their belly, covered in blood and muck in the middle of the night.


SeaSpray said...

Throckmorton- what a nice tribute to them!

Sounds real serious - I hope he made it.

It's good that you recognize the efforts put in by others. I think when co-workers recognize the value in each other's efforts it fosters good will and cooperation that only serves to enhance patient care,not to mention a better working environment.

I am curious...Did you hesitate to stop to help at first or was it automatic?

I ask because I have heard staff discussing the Good Samaritan law and concern of lawsuits if something goes wrong even though the intent was to help. Supposedly protected by that law?

Throckmorton said...

I am always worried about lawsuits and have to admit that as I went by I hoped that things were alright but when I saw that things were bad it was a no brainer. I guess, if that were my son I would want him to have all the help possible.

In most states that Good Samiritan Law has been overturned if the person responding person is a liscensed professional. It is a sad state of our litiginous society.

One of my more heartbreaking moments was when Hurricaine Katrina hit we went with a medical team to help out. We were immediately told by both the Red Cross and or Medmal carrier that we weren't covered if anyone tried to sue. The State of Louisianna even informed us that we were not liscensed to practice medicine in the state. We wanted to help and everyone threw red tape at us while people were hurting. To get around all this we chartered busses to bring people in and as long as we had the people enter the office or the hospital we were covered.

SeaSpray said...

That's great that you went to help the Katrina victims.

It is good that you got around the red tape but no doubt people suffered needlessly because of the delays.

You have to protect yourselves as physicians because you are needed to help so many other people during your time in practice.

I have a close friend who could be a wealthy woman today if she chose to sue her doctor and nurse, but she didn't.

She has a severe chronic asthma. She is 50 and has the lungs of a 117 yr old woman.

She went to the allergist to get her usual shot. But there was a pediatric office emergency that came in and so the nurse had to attend to that 1st. When she returned, she accidentally gave my friend 10x the appropriate dose and she immediately went into an anaphylactic rxn and woke up 3 days later in the ICU with her doctor (looking pale) and her husband by her bedside. Her husband had been told to gather the family together. She was left with a heart condition and discharged with heart medicine for the condition. She was allowed to go on vacation but had to stay in the beach house.

She had already told the doc that she knew it was an accident, don't fire the nurse and she wasn't going to sue. She said he didn't seem to believe her.

While on vacation, she sent them a post card letting them know that she was doing alright and not to worry about her.

When she returned for her check-up, they all hugged and cried.

She had her follow-up heart test a few months after the incident and it was normal and she was able to stop the meds. That was a few years ago and she is still fine today except for the asthma and she can never have that medicine again.

We need more people like her in the world!

Chrysalis Angel said...

What an absolutely great post! I'm going to bookmark you! A big thank you for stopping and helping them. Your right, when you're out in the muck and mire you're working with the situation as you come upon it, and as that call comes in you don't know what you'll really find when you get there.

I hear you about the Good Samaritan law. They have even discussed in our state, at one time, possibly issuing specialized plates that identified those having had medical training of any kind (meaning current license and registration to practice or certification), that would mandate you to stop and help. That was years ago and has never come to pass, but just imagine...

SeaSpray said...

Angel - I recall an ER Doc stating that he would never have anything on his plates identifying him as a doctor because he could then become a target for a lawsuit if someone could cause some kind of an accident with him. That was a while ago too.

I think mandating something like that would've been wrong and a violation of privacy, etc.

It is a sad state of affairs when medical professionals or anyone acting as a Good Samaritan wish to help their fellow man but have to stop to analyze the pros and cons of doing so instead of just following their instincts.

SeaSpray said...

I was just rereading some of your posts and am going to print this one out for my neighbor's son.

He and my son are good friends since they were babies. They were born 2 days apart (will be 19 in Oct)and have always lived across from each other on opposite corners.

Last Dec. he became an EMT and has always volunteered way beyond the call of duty taking calls at all hrs of the day and night when not working.

A few weeks ago, he came across the mother of all accidents in our area. The seasoned squad members told him it was the worst one they ever saw. Involved 5 cars. They later provided a counselor for the squad members that were at the scene.

The day he had the counseling (which he said helped) he stopped by here around 11:30 at night to see my son and friends. But instead of hanging out with them in the family room, he came in to me and just wanted to talk about the accident.

I know with HIPPA laws he shouldn't have and I should have stopped him but I could see he needed to still talk. (they are images now in my mind that I could do without)He talked for an hr or so. He loves being on the squad but this one rocked his world and he said he didn't even feel safe driving home after the accident. He has a suv that he had felt safe in and the vehicle that spun out (after getting hit by a drunk driver)went air born, landed upside down on top of a car, was an suv which did NOTHING to protect the passengers. Amazingly, the people in that car were banged up but alright. Same with the other 3 cars.

This is such a good post and I think it will be both healing and inspirational for him to read this.

I hope you don't mind.