Saturday, September 15, 2007

Beaten Up in the Cath Lab

Reportedly, a physician at a San Diego hospital beat up on a patient during a cardiac catheterization procedure. While I don't condone this behavior in any way, I can understand as an interventional cardiologist how something like this could happen.

The cath lab is a stressful environment. The procedures that we do are very intricate and do carry significant risk. We're dealing with coronary arteries that are only a few millimeters wide. Often our patients are quite sick.

Further, we demand a lot of our patients. We ask them to lie flat and completely still on a narrow, hard table. This is uncomfortable, especially for older patients and people with back problems. While we give sedation medication, our patients are not completely knocked out and they do have to deal with the discomfort.

Often patients for various reasons find it hard to cooperate, and thus they move. Our equipment is literally laid out on top of the patient. So if they move their leg or arch their back to adjust themselves, they not only risk tossing important items on the floor, but they risk harm to themselves as they disrupt our delicate work.

While this physician who allegedly beat his patient is innocent until proven guilty, such violence toward a patient doesn't need to happen, and it shouldn't. The patient could be given more sedation. Or, soft restraints could be used. The patient could even be completely sedated and intubated to facilitate the procedure being done.

So, you combine the difficulty of a patient to lie still with the stress of a physician doing a complicated procedure. But beating up a patient is just not the right way to deal.

5 comments:

marygrace said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Saoirse said...

That's so awful. I can't imagine what that patient must have been feeling.

chaoticfamily said...

Found your blog via Michelle's at Tiger the Lion...

I can understand both sides.... Well not the physical abuse part but just the stress of it all.

It must be a very stressful time for all parties involved and as someone with congentital heart disease who at one time was told I needed to have a cath procedure done I understand the fears involved. I have had many surgeries and procedures and reacted differently to all of them... Sometimes your nerves take control and you do things that normally you would not do.

But - I also understand that some people just refuse to listen and their lives are being trusted upon someone else being able to do their job correctly and without the co-operation of the consented patient that cannot be done. Having worked in the health care field I know that some people refuse to listen to what is in their best interest and don't take the right steps to allow proper care by all health care providers.

Hope you don't mind the comment.

Erinne

Anonymous said...

I have worked in a The Sleep Lab and Cardiac Cath Lab for almost 25 years.
It is not uncommon to see a Physician hit a patient or Staff member. myself and the rest of the staff, it was just “the nature of the beast.”
We see cardiologist sweet as sugar to the patient then after they have given 6 of versed and 100 of Demerol the Dr. Changes and slaps the patient’s thigh and will say things like fat ass Americans! They are just stupid.
(btw it was a Caucasian MD from the Northern states) Another hospital an MD stating how much he hated his fat gross patients after being so nice to them and their families.

Lia Kay said...

I don't think there's much excuse to ever strike a patient for just not cooperating.

I work in the psychological field, so I get how frustrating patients can be. Granted, their immediate health doesn't always depend on me, but I do get frustrated.

The thing is, hitting a patient who isn't cooperating is completely the physician's fault. I don't care how irritating it is. If I ever struck someone because I was angry or sad or frustrated, that would be totally on me. They're not "asking for it" (as I've heard as an excuse before) even if they refuse to do what I say.

In fields such as medicine and social care, the stress is absolutely tremendous. But that cannot be an excuse to hurt people.

Plus, it won't help them get better, just switch to a new doctor (as they should).

Thanks for the post - it brings up some issues that are good to think about. :)