Healthcare Update 11-12-2009


Syringe thief causes brawl in ED. A suspect was seen combing through drawers and cabinets in the emergency department and was seen taking syringes. He tried to run and a “scuffle” ensued. Now he’s in the GreyBar Motel.
In other news, because of this incident, JCAHO has now mandated that mandatory syringe counts be performed after every shift and that syringes must now be locked behind the nursing station as a patient safety measure because patients could suck up toilet water with the syringes and squirt it in their mouths or they could use the syringes to suck H1N1-laden mucus out of their noses and squirt it at random patients walking the hallways.

More violence in the ED. Nurse stabbed in chest while taking care of suspected drug overdose patient.
In other news, JCAHO cited the nurse for failing to use “less restrictive” methods to restrain the patient and has now mandated that all sharp objects be removed from emergency departments.

Then there’s the hospital violence. A nursing assistant at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California got attacked at work by a violent patient, went to the emergency department, was discharged back to work, was attacked again, and was then turned away from an in-house worker’s compensation clinic. Later that day, she collapsed from a brain bleed and isn’t expected to recover. Did the hospital attacks cause her to have a stroke? Could literally be the million dollar question. Both the health insurer and the employer are denying responsibility for the significant hospital bill.
News stories here and here. The web site set up for donations to help her is here.

Long waits for ED care occur all over the globe. In Australia, one family waited “712 hours” for their daughter to be seen after having a seizure. Eventually, they left – “exhausted and angry.” During their time in the waiting room, their child celebrated her second birthday, learned to read, and took up crochet.

Cokehead trauma victim closes down University of Utah emergency department. Ummmm … sumdood was carrying five plastic bags full of white powder in his pocket and the first thing these ED personnel think of is anthrax? Yeah. OK. By the way, all those bags with little green weeds in it are full of oregano. I’m an Italian chef … really. Buon appetito!

Non-caffeinated Sprite gives you just as much of an energy kick as a Monster energy drink. Just ask this 12 year old – who, by the way, was the youngest person ever to present a scientific paper at the American College of Emergency Physicians’ Scientific Assembly.
Red Bull … that may be a different story. Six German states banned Red Bull Cola after finding trace amounts of cocaine byproducts in the bottles. So what if you’d have to drink “12,000 liters” of Red Bull Cola to get the equivalent buzz of one snort? It’s cocaine, dammit! Just don’t sell this stuff in Utah. Someone might drink it in the ED and cause a hospital shut-down.

This thing really is an emergency room. California can’t afford to keep their hospitals open, but they can afford to build some 1000 square foot mobile ER contraption that has capacity for medical staff to do x-rays, ultrasounds, EKGs and minor surgery. Now, instead of making patients endure unimaginable waits in the hospital emergency departments, the mobile ED has the ability to just drive by you if you’re waving for help.

Training with fake patients. Banner Health in Arizona has set up a mock hospital where “lifeless mannequins will bleed, burp and give birth.” Mannequins can suffer from such ailments as septic shock, GI bleed, pulmonary embolisms, medication overdoses, and breech births. To keep things as close to real life as possible, word on the street is that one of the mannequins has 10 out of 10 back pain for the past three years and is allergic to all NSAIDs, Ultram, Darvocet, Codeine, Benadryl, Compazine, and Droperidol … and his doctor is out of town.

When funding goes, so does medical care.

Odd request …. Someone posts a question on “” asking whether it is legal for hospitals to refuse to tell patients which doctor is on call in the emergency department. If you’re having a true emergency, does it matter?

Some people write blog posts to protest their perceived injustices, some people paint murals. NPR has a sad story about medical bureaucracy and treatment of a terminal cancer patient.


  1. The mural is amazing, and the story is sad. It’s frustrating how the bureaucracy we work in ties our hands in these cases. We spend so much time making sure we are in compliance with all of the various rules & regulations — less and less time spent actually taking care of the patients.

  2. I really hope the JACHO stuff is fake….but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it’s not.

    Got to say, glad I got away from JACHO when I did. OHIP may not be perfect….but they have yet to meddle like that!

  3. Pingback: Okay how shallow « Maddmedic

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