Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shocking Situation

An ER doc friend of mine told me this story that happened a few weeks ago. He had a patient come in to the ER complaining that he had one of those "bad pacemakers" that he had heard so much of on those lawyer commercials. In fact he had even called the 1-800 number to report his problem. He had been on the phone for several hours and that was why he didn't come right in. His problem was that every few minutes he was getting a shock. At first the shocks were really strong but now they were relatively weak. He explained that the attorney site said that there was a problem with the wires in the device and he may be able to participate in their lawsuit. I guess telling him to go to the ER was not part of their sales pitch. The patient didn't think that there could be anything wrong with his heart because the commercials all said that the pacemakers were defective so he stayed on the line and gave them all the information he had. Name, address, he even read them the information on his medic ID bracelet and the card that he carried that identified the "Automatic Implanted Defibrillator" that he in his chest, including the company and model number.

The first thing the ER did of course was hook him up to the monitors while he went on an on about what the attorney had said and sure enough his "pacemaker" was shocking him. He was having runs of vtach and the pacer was actually a defibrillator and was keeping him alive! He was so busy talking about his possible lawsuit that he didn't mention that he had been feeling really bad and passing out. He also didn't mention that he had gained some weight and since it must be water had increased his lasix dose. His "defective pacemaker" stopped shocking him when his potassium was corrected.

Somehow, I get the feeling that he will still try to sue.


SeaSpray said...

I am against wrongful and erroneous suing just because you can...but... he should sue THEM for not including seek emergency help! (If it was not written or given a verbal warning (which wouldn't suffice) to seek medical attention if certain symptoms occur.

My mother almost died because her water pills were too strong for her that her doctor had prescribed. Back in 2000. I would never sue. It was a mistake. he has been good to her and I have a nice little story about him and another doc in reference to taking her as a patient. But I digress.

Also...she had been having salt... I don't think he knew..compensated with water pills and she had stopped with the salty that could've been in play too... but they were strong diuretics.

I will post on it sometime because I didn't go with my instincts and what my eyes told me, when I saw her... which was that she needed to go to the ED... but she REFUSED and so I backed down. LONGER STORY!

Long story short- she was severely dehydrated, had begun to go into renal failure and was hospitalized for a week!

Patients should never increase their own meds! She didn't do that though.

I used to read this stuff and didn't really think about it...but now I am beginning to take this stuff to heart (no pun intended)and so very much want to lose the weight I need to lose. It used to be just to be pretty or sexy like we girls like to feel and while that is important...i find I have thoughts like I just want to be alive and around for my family and friends and whatever other wonderful opportunities come up!

Someone we know died unexpectedly in November and it makes you think. When you're think you have forever and then one realize that you don't and had better do all you can to improve your odds.

My Paternal grandmother lived to just shy of 103 and so my goal is to beat her. :)

P.S. I know of someone who had heart surgery and she could hear the device in her but I forget why. It did scare her. Now THAT would make me crazy... because you want to forget about these things!

Andrew said...

OK,OK, enough with the "kill all the lawyers" screeds. In the law, we call what was reported to you by your friend in the ER "hearsay," which is what it would be if your friend was testifying about this in court. Your reporting of it is even further removed from the source. So, really, how reliable is the information?
But the bigger problem here may lie in the way that the cardiac patient's primary care doc, and cardiologist care for him. There definitely is something wrong going on when such a patient reaches out to lawyers on TV instead of contacting the physicians who are most familiar with the hardware inside him. Maybe they don't treat him well. Maybe the patient feels he can't afford to contact them because of the bills he'll get.
Just trying to add a little perspective here.

SeaSpray said...

Andrew ... all valid points... but it also might just be the greed of the patient fueled by such adds.

I agree... good doctor/pt communications are key and can only serve to benefit both physician and patient. Not only does it enhance the relationship... but can protect both of them... because everything is out in the open, thus both are able to make more informed decisions regarding medical care.

You can lead a horse to water but...