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Monday, March 27, 2006

My tongue

Okay, this is an extension of my previous post. I was going to write about it earlier, but I needed some time to really think about it.

When I was looking after that lady who collapsed, I had about 30 seconds to assess her, in the presence of her relatives, before further help arrived. In fact, one of the patient's daughters was still holding her in her arms, in order to stop her from falling to the floor. Her other daughter and grandaughter stood behind me.

I saw her take only ONE breath during this time. One breath in thirty seconds is not a good sign.

I said out loud, "She is still breathing." This was a lie. One breath is not "breathing". And I could also tell that it was not an effective breath.

I was also feeling her pulse which stopped *whilst I was feeling it*. I remember thinking at the same time that the patient's daughter was still right next to me. I could feel the eyes of the other relatives on the back of my neck.

And I said out loud, "I can feel a pulse." This was also a lie.

I lied twice. Why? Why? Because I didn't want to alarm her family? Because I didn't want them to panic? Because I was 'buying time' until I had more help, more time to think? Because I didn't trust my hands? Is that a good excuse?

We had to pry the daughter's hands off the patient. She was in shock - she nearly fainted. The grandaughter became hysterical and started to scream. This happened because my registrar and two nurses ran into the bay, and the registrar immediately said, "There's no pulse, get her on the trolley."

The reason why I wrote the previous post was because I felt really bad, not because I had lost a patient, but I had lied to her family. And in doing so, had I wasted precious seconds in dealing with the patient? I could have started CPR twenty seconds earlier, and it may have made a difference.

What have I done?

I must watch my mind and guard my tongue more closely.

3 Comments:

Anonymous imp said...

me no trained medic. don't know if 20secs would have made a difference. it might not. it might. don't dwell on it.

you made a judgment call. i believe you did what you thought best.

12:18 pm  
Blogger MdmSng said...

Agree totally with imp.

Don't be haunted by the "what if". You'll never know. And you have to believe that life and death is in the hands of God.

Take care.

10:04 pm  
Blogger Bob said...

I'm pretty much in line with imp and mdmsng. Although I'm not a doctor and don't play one, even on TV, I don't think the 20 seconds made a difference. It sounds like whatever happened was fairly catastrophic, and nothing would change the outcome. I can understand why you'd feel bad about it just the same.

2:42 am  

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