Reading time 6 minutes
At Storifield Royal, Wednesday 21:35
The pre-alert phone rings..
” Hi Resus. We are bringing a 69 year old female who developed severe shortness of breath this evening . She had an operation done on her left lung 2 weeks ago but we are unable to get much history due to her respiratory distress . She was discharged on Monday( 2 days ago). I have her discharge letter which says a lung nodule was removed from her left lung along with partial lobectomy. Her Hospital no. is DIB-123-SOB & obs are
P= 119/min RR 40/min BP 106/66
Temp 36.2 SpO2 85% on 15 L NRB mask
ETA is 4 min. “
4 minutes of pre-alert were used to do the following:
Review of discharge letter – patient had a solitary lesion on left lower lobe . A lobectomy was performed to remove this lesion. Pt had developed pneumothorax on left side post procedure which was drained . Her chest tube was removed 1 day prior to her discharge.No other significant Past medical history.
Preparation for ABCs
Team briefing – SHO tasked to perform ABG . Nurse to cannulate and take blood samples. ITU on stand by.
The patient arrives. At a glance,
A:Patent and clear. Trying to speak but unable to say anything due to severe shortness of breath
B: Normal sounds on rt side. Unable to auscultate on left side due to sub cutaneous emphysema.
SpO2 89% on 21 L( 15L/min NRB + 6L/min nasal cannulae)
Chest expansion bilaterally symmetrical. Trachea central.
C: Pulse 122/min BP 110/71 Abdomen soft
ECG showed sinus tachycardia and incomplete RBBB
D: GCS 15/15. Neurologically intact
ABG( on 21L/min)
pH 7.29 pCo2 3.9 pO2 9.9 HCO3 21 Lactate 3 BE -4
Furthermore, a bed side echo was attempted but due to the presence of sub-cut emphysema and respiratory distress, optimal cardiac window couldn’t be obtained.
By this stage, I have formed the diagnosis using my type 1 thinking (types of thinking explained below)
It has to be a Pneumothorax. Subcutaneous emphysema, history of operation on that side, post op insertion of chest drain for pneumothorax , what else could it be?
Even though patient was severely hypoxic, a blood pressure was stable. A quick portable chest x-ray was performed.
CXR showing small left apical pneumothorax
As per my type 1 thinking, x-ray would have revealed a big pneumothorax. Findings were not adding up. Small pneumothorax couldn’t explain patient’s condition. A look back at her x-ray on discharge showed apical pneumothorax on left side was old and was persistent post chest drain. It was a time to put a different thinking cap on (type 2)
Before we move on, let us just watch a short clip to help us understand types of thinking processes. No animals were hurt in the making of this video!!
This is what is going through goat’s mind
I ve been put down. I have seen it in the past what happens next. Oh there comes the knife over my throat. Oh dear….
Goat’s fast, intuitive reaction and instantaneous decisions with TYPE 1 THINKING tells her that she must be dead.She stays still.
After few seconds, she realises something is different. She doesn’t feel dead. When made to stand up, using her focussed decision making & reasoning with TYPE 2 THINKING PROCESS, goat decides to walk away. Sheeww!! What a relief.
In our patient, old persistent pneumothorax is not the reason for the new SOB that she developed 2 hours earlier. With relatively normal looking chest x-ray , a decision to perform CTPA was taken. Patient was given sub-cut low molecular weight heparin while awaiting CT. A scan was performed with the support of ITU colleagues.
Arrows showing bilateral emboli almost completely obstructing the pulmonary blood flow.
On return from scanner, pt’s blood pressure had dropped to 89/60. Patient was thrombolysed using IV alteplase resulting in immediate improvement of her symptoms. Oxygen requirement reduced drastically to mere 6 litres/min over next 45 minutes while alteplase was being infused . Patient was admitted under thoracic medicine for further care. She made a complete recovery and was discharged home 2 days lateron long term anti-coagulants.
READING TIME 4 MINUTES
Case has been storified to protect confidentiality
At Storifield Royal 04:15
I was in the later half of my night shift and was looking forward for my break. Almost there. I could smell the coffee. Just then I got thrusted with an ECG and 2 words
Here are the 2 ECGs that were done 15 minutes apart
and this was my reaction to it
ST elevation can be seen in lead II,III,AVF,V2-v4.
As I walked towards the patient, I saw a young lady sitting on a chair clenching her chest with her left hand and holding a 5 week old baby with the other. She said I woke up with this crushing chest pain. I feel I have been kicked in the chest. Pain was heavy, not worsening with breathing. She had cold sweats and was feeling nauseated. There were no co-morbids.
Nurse shouted her pulse is 56, BP 138/66, SpO2 97% on air. She is afebrile. We got her on the trolley, moved her to resus, cannulated and gave her analgesia.
Examination was unremarkable.
Cardiologist were called and a decision to activate the cath lab was taken. Reluctant to let go of her baby, we reassured mom that both of you will be reunited soon.
Angiography showed that patient had developed Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection(SCAD)
The culprit vessel was successfully stented and she made a full recovery.
Check out this 30 second animated demonstration on SCAD
READING TIME 5 MINUTES
If you have watched Hulk Hogan wrestling, you would know he has been a hero to many. Among his many sensational moves was a signature “ear wave”. Take a look
Before the Hogan decides to take on the the poor referee, he performs his ear waves where he walks to all 4 corners and “LISTENS” to the crowd. He makes them feel important. He is indicating it to them that “I am a world champion but I am “LISTENING” to you”.
A 29 year old female presents with abdominal pain and increased work of breathing. She suffers from type 1 diabetic. Her blood ketones are 6.1 and blood gas shows
pH 7.15 HCO3 15 Glucose 29 mmol Base excess -12 Lactate 1.6
The conversation between the “Doctor & Patient” was as follows
Hi..My name is “dr fast & the furious”. How can I help?
Well Dr I have diabetes and
Do you take insulin?
Yes I am on insulin but yesterday I was feeling poorly. I had this terrible belly pain & felt like..
Did you had any vomiting…
No but I was…
No…but Doctor I was saying that I felt nauseous yesterday and didn’t wanted to…
Have you been taking your insulin regularly..
Okie I am just going to review your blood results and will come back to you..
Doctor reviews the results and makes the correct diagnosis of Diabetic Ketoacidosis, writes the correct management and refers the patient to medics. He then carries on seeing other patients and doesn’t get time to get back to this patient. She goes to the ward, gets better gradually and is discharged 3 days later. After few of weeks later, ED department receives a complaint letter that says…..
I would like to express my concerns regarding the contrast in care I received between emergency department and the medical ward. As soon as I reached ward, doctor explained to me what was my condition, listened to me and treated me. I started feeling better after few hours. I felt the doctor in ED acted more like a traffic warden who just directed me to medical ward .I felt I was not listened to. How could the doctor have diagnosed me when we wasn’t even listening. I understand the busy and noisy nature of A&E but strongly feels that ED doctor should have spent minute or two to listen to what I had to say.
ED compassion is as important for patients as giving good clinical care. Though there are many scientific papers and theories behind ED compassion, true delight of compassionate care comes from an introspection. Here is what I have found by listening…
Be an ED hero
Have a listening ear
Let your patient know
You have time to hear
So next time when you are treating your patient, ask yourself have you listened?