But I was alerted to a rather shocking error on last week's installment. I had to see it for myself.
On this typically chaotic day in the emergency department, a young woman was brought in after a car crash which occurred while she was in her way to the ED because of abdominal pain. A CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis was negative, but her serum lactate level was elevated. They then decided to examine her abdomen and noted tenderness. A bedside ultrasound done in the ED revealed a left ovarian torsion (twisting of the blood supply to the ovary which if not rapidly corrected, could cause irreversible damage). The patient had already had her right ovary removed. Further heightening the drama was that her husband died of lymphoma but had banked his sperm, and the patient wanted to have his baby.
She needed immediate surgery, but all of the hospital's operating rooms were busy. As the window of opportunity to correct the problem was closing, an operating room opened up. But alas, there was not a single gynecologist or surgeon available to do the case. According to the back story about Dr. Neil Hudson, he's a fully trained surgeon who decided to work in emergency medicine. One of the new ED residents begged Dr. Hudson to do the case, and he resisted for a while until it was almost too late.
Despite admitting to having no operating room privileges and surely no malpractice insurance coverage for surgery, Dr. Hudson finally acquiesced. Just before beginning the case, he explained to the OR staff what he was going to do.
Then the egregious error occurred. While scrubbed in the OR and wearing a sterile gloves and gown, he calmly reached up to pull his unsterile mask over his nose and mouth. That's a no-no.
Some other highlights. For a patient with multiple facial lacerations, Dr. Hudson ligated the maxillary artery—quite a feat in an emergency room without an OR light or any retraction. As you can see from the figure below, the maxillary artery is deep to the jawbone. Not shown are branches of the facial nerve which lie above the artery.
If the convoluted story of the woman with the ovarian torsion wasn't enough, the patient with the nosebleed happened to be a 14-year-old blind boy on Coumadin who fell while rock climbing with his father.
Stay tuned for the next episode featuring a bus that tumbles off a narrow mountain road while carrying non-compliant hemophiliacs.