Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bolus of Common Sense

We had a patient that was aspirating.  The concern was whether or not it was tube feeds.  Before we would add some food coloring to the tube feeds and then see what color the mucus was that the patient coughed up.  Now we cant because somebody wrote a paper that it might cause a reducing agent problem.  I tried to explain to the nutritionists that we were just going to use the same stuff that was in the cupcakes in the cafeteria but they wouldn't hear of it.  All they said was the potential danger of the dye.  In my own retaliatory manner I flooded them with case reports where tube feeding was accidentally run into central lines because it is the same color as the lipids in the TPN.  They didn't think it was funny.  I solved the problem by putting Gator Aid in the tube feed and sure enough he was aspirating!

This led me to wonder.  We are always trying to be sure the wrong medication is not given to the wrong patient.  Why don't we color the medications so that even when they are in the syringe of the bag we know that something is wrong.  After all, patients take pills that are different colors.  Make morphine blue, decadron yellow, ancef green and so on. That way when you walk into the room you know hey these are the meds he is on.  Oh, never mind, that makes common sense.