Monday, January 16, 2006

Triage Tales 2

Disclaimer: The following story is a work of fiction. All similarities to people, places, things and events are coincidental by nature.

A 50-plus male comes into the ER complaining of crushing chest pain,for a good12 hours. He brings with him an ECG tracing done 6 hours ago showing ST-elevation and a referral letter stating his transfer "due to financial concerns".

He is placed in the standard regimen in the quickest time the ER could muster: Oxygen, Nitrates, and Heparin. Simultaneously I draw blood for cardiac enzymes.

We rely completely on what we call "responsible companions" to send up specimens to the concerned services: Lab, X-Ray, ECG. So you could just imagine the horror when some of these companions get lost in the expanse that is our hospital.

After giving directions for the nth time, this particular patient's bantay still hasn't photocopied the ECG tracing for the new one taken at the ER. In order to refer to the good people in Internal Medicine, you need said tracing to justify their time...

She looked dazed and lost, not panicky like other wives of myocardial infarction patients are known to be. So I asked her on the way to the laboratory, after taking the initiative to follow up the patient's lab results: Are you really like that? I mean, your husband's having a heart attack and you still can act nonchalantly as if nothing is happening?

"Yes, well... I'm his third wife."

Silence from me.

"His first one's in jail."

At three o' clock in the morning, that convoluted answer was enough to shut me up, until 7AM.

Two days later I learn from my Medicine colleague that 1) patient has been admitted at the ICU, and 2) his "third wife" has apparently abandoned him.

Talk about breaking his heart.

I hope I can still survive weeks without salary. I mean, I could still ask for help from my parents, but it would just remind me of the call center people earning more for less work.

I've nothing against them. What pisses me off is that they pay us so little.

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