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Is “All Right” All Wrong?

Submitted by on January 21, 2013 – 6:13 PM

Doctor holding patient hand“Case of electric shock, age 27, married and no vital signs when we got there. We immediately intubated him!” exclaimed the paramedical team while pushing the stretcher into the CPR room.


We quickly laid the patient down on the CPR bed. Burning scar on his right hand’s finger tips was an obvious evidence of electric shock. Paramedics explained that this tragic accident occurred while he was repairing the ceiling fan. His wife, expecting their first child tried to enter the CPR room, crying profusely, I could not let her in.



However, I was relying on the sentence in Medical books: victims of certain events such as Electric shock, drowning and frostbite require long CPR. After 30 minutes we had no success, I was sweating and my arms were aching, the nurse was exhausted of chest compression so we exchanged positions. He was squeezing the Ambu bag and I was compressing the patient’s chest simultaneously with all my energy. Some other male nurses came to help us – 35 minutes, 40, 45…no vital signs. Eventually we had to stop CPR with failure.



Later a police officer arrived, asking whether the deceased patient had been alive when brought into the hospital because his family had filed a complaint against me and my CPR team. They claimed that the paramedics transferring their patient to the hospital assured them that he would be all right which implied that he was alive at the time.



We presented the emergency services’ (EMS) report showing there had been no vital signs from the very beginning. Yet the family couldn’t believe that the paramedics would give them hope when the patient was already dead. They barged around the hospital, trying to damage property, disturbing other patients with the commotion, shouting, “He was alive and could survive, but you neglected your duties! You killed him!”



The family filed a complaint to the Medical council and consequently after a process of re-examination and final review, they found no proof against the hospital or medical team. After 6 months, they eventually gave up.



Later when I saw that EMS nurse, I advised him to never again give any baseless hope to close ones of a patient. A simple comment “He will be all right” from a person in white, will be instantly believed and proof against it, sometimes is impossible even by all medical organizations. But worst of all , this comment calls into question all the efforts a medical team makes and the challenges they face in the process of providing medical care.




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