Monday, August 21, 2006

(Don’t) Care Homes

This is something that Tom Reynolds of Random Acts of Reality has written about before, but I think it is well worth writing about this one experience.

We were given the job as an elderly male with difficulty in breathing and unable to walk. In some ways this was true.

When we arrived, the home was clean and didn’t have the normal smell of stale urine and stale food. They even had nurses on the staff to look after the patients.

He was barely conscious and was breathing at a rate of 40 breaths a minute. (The average adult breathes between 12 and 20 times a minute). So, the first question was how long had he been like this. One of the nurses told us that he had been in this state for over an hour before they decided to get help.

As we had a closer look, the gentleman had a rash all over his body and was so hot to touch that it felt as if I was being burnt. He had a temperature of 41 degrees C. Apparently, the GP who looked after the home had decided that it was just a rash and was treating it with a cream. Great idea if it hadn’t been a septic rash that required antibiotics. More concerning was the fact that none of the nurses had realised what the rash was.

This patient was ‘Blued’ into hospital but despite all the knowledge and skills available, he only lasted another 90 minutes.

Remind me to add this home to the list of ones that I don’t want to end up in!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Unfortunate Accidents

We were called to a young man in his eighties. This gentleman was normally fit well and healthy, didn’t take any medication, still drove his car and was the main carer for his wife of 60 years.

This young man had tripped over a loose paving slab and taken a knock just over the eye. There was nothing to see really, just a bit of a bruise and a lump.

We had a long chat with this gentleman who was insistent that he didn’t want to go to hospital, didn’t want to go to the ambulance just to be checked over and really didn’t see what the fuss was all about.

While we were talking to him, his wife was adamant that they just wanted to go home. This would have been all well and good as long as nothing changed.

Then, right in front of our eyes, the left side of his face started to drop and his speech started to become slurred. This was the start of a CVA (Stroke).

We got the oxygen on him and got him onto our chair and wheeled him quite quickly to the ambulance while a friendly bystander walked with his wife and brought her to the ambulance.

While we were waiting for the wife, we carried out a couple of tests, blood sugar, blood pressure, an ECG and his oxygen levels.

Once his wife was comfortably seated on the ambulance, we made a ‘Blue Call’. This alerts the hospital that we are going to arrive with a patient who needs immediate medical attention as soon as possible using blue lights and sirens to assist us through the traffic.

The team in the hospital confirmed that he had had a major bleed which could have either been caused when he hit his head or was due to happen when it did.

I don’t know what the outcome was, but I really hope that he is one of the few patients that fully recover.