some time ago i read a post about the worst resus ever. i thought i've seen worse. so here is the first installment in what might be a short series.
i was a junior registrar i was working in kalafong/hell. it was late at night. my house doctor and i were relaxing in the anesthetists' tearoom. we were the only one's there.
suddenly the phone rang. it was a sister in high care.
"hello, can you come and tube a patient?" i had no patients at that time in high care.
"whose patient is it?" i asked.
"the physician's". (small note. in south africa, we call an internist a physician. the word physician is not generally used for doctor. in fact if you were to call a surgeon a physician, he would probably be offended.)
"why doesn't he intubate his own patient?" i asked.
"he is here trying but he needs your help." the picture came into focus. i asked my standard question.
"should i run or can i walk?"
i entered high care out of breath, even though it wasn't all that far from the tearoom, my house doctor in tow. i expected to be given charge, but the physician was at the head of the patient. he immediately told me i was there to support and that he was going to tube. i took in the scenario.
there was a 20something male in clear distress. the physician was holding a mask to his face, making sure he formed an airtight seal between his skin and the mask. only problem.. it was a venturi mask that is not meant to be used in a resus and has large holes on the side. a seal, airtight or otherwise, is useless. also you can't actively pump air into the lungs, so if the patient is in trouble, in trouble he will remain. i took a step back. my house doctor and i exchanged glances.
"amazing!" she remarked. "i can't believe what i am seeing." i wasn't sure what to do. he had told me in no uncertain terms that i was not to take over and yet everything else about what he was doing was uncertain to say the least. to try to somehow get a better understanding of what was happening i tried small talk.
"what's wrong with him?"
"kidney failure and now pulmonary edema."
"he looks pretty pale."
"yes, his hb is 4" (extremely low but probably a chronic state.) "in fact i think i'd better order him some blood. here, hold the mask while i draw some blood." and with that he moved away from the head. this clown was actually going to draw blood while his patient died. before i could say anything i found myself holding the ridiculous mask to the patient's face while the physician moved to the arm and commenced drawing blood. i had two immediate thoughts. the first was that my senior registrar would walk in and see me holding this pathetic mask to a dying patient's face. i would never live that down. neither would the patient.
the second was that the physician had relinquished the head. i was in charge! immediately i told the sister to get the ambu mask and bag. (this is the correct mask to actively pump air into the lungs.)
i turned up the oxygen and began pumping. i then got the laryngoscope ready. i injected a bit of dormicum and prepared to tube. as i started to tube, the physician moved back to the head and tried to shift me out of the way. there was no way i was going to let him at the patient again. i tubed while he tried to shoulder me out the way. i just ignored him. i checked the position of the tube, told the physician to start bagging the patient and left.
other posts in the series.
resus with hands tied behind my back.