Teeter Totters – Day 1 reflections

Day 1 was filled with lots of great conversations and thought provoking discussion.  The most of which was the Lewis Blackmon video.  As I think back on the video, I keep thinking about how many mistakes were made and how many times the medical team could have intervened that likely would have changed the outcome.  First, having a post surgical patient on an oncology floor seems very inappropriate and quite frankly dangerous for patient safety.  I realize that in today’s world of bed shortages (especially at my home institution), this is a very likely occurrence but it is disheartening to see.  Secondly, It amazes me that once Lewis started having increased abdominal pain and his vital signs began to change, there was no discussion of moving him to a higher acuity floor, such as step down or even the ICU where he would be monitored closer and his nursing care would be more used to post-surgical patients.

One of the most interesting comments made by Helen in the video related to her not knowing that the surgeon that performed Lewis’ operation would not necessarily be around during the weekend after his surgery.  This begs the question, do we need to inform patients and/or families of this type of situation when we consent patients for surgery in which we believe the patient will likely still be admitted to the hospital during the weekend in the post op period? At my institution, a line has been added to the surgical consent stating whether or not the attending surgeon will be overseeing multiple ORs at the same time or if he/she only has one OR at a time.  I believe this issue goes into both the issues of transparency as well as full disclosure.

Overall, I think the Lewis Blackmon story taught me something very important and that is when family members are persistently bringing issues up to your attention, there is likely something wrong that needs addressing.  I feel that too often, we brush this type of thing under the rug and say that the family member doesnt necessarily know when something is actually wrong.  When I go back to the hospital and a family member consistently expresses concern, I will do my best to not dismiss these thoughts and try to thoroughly investigate their concerns not only to appease the family members but also to make sure I am not missing something.