Jenna Webber is a Public Health & Preventive Medicine Resident (R2) at Queen's University
It’s 1 AM. The call comes in: VSA en route. Your team assembles.
Efficient, empathic, skilled — the team prepares for arrival. Roles are assigned, facts are reviewed, and questions are posed. The team is ready. You wait.
The patient arrives. Pulse check — asystole. On to the chest. Transfer the patient to the bed. The team knows what to do — whether through simulations or past cases, everyone knows the algorithm. Everyone knows their role. With heads, hearts, and hands, everyone works on.
The clock marches. Tick. Tock.
The skin is mottled. Bagging is going well, but intubation is tricky. Paeds and Anesthesia are on their way. Keep bagging. ...continue reading →
Dr. James Maskalyk describes emergencies “as a sign of life taking care of itself” in his most recent memoir, Life on the Ground Floor. Throughout his book, the reader is left to wonder what exactly Maskalyk means by this. It is an ominous phrase that, at first glance, reads more like a repackaged “survival of the fittest” for emergency departments. However, through deft and emotional storytelling, Maskalyk urges us to look beyond this stark message of Darwinism and see that emergencies are the purest form of life helping life, or “life taking care of itself”. ...continue reading →
It’s March Break, which means last chance to do winter activities for some families in Canada. Unfortunately, I’m not Winter Fun Mom so I booked Son #2 - the only person in our family who is interested in winter sports - on a bus-in snowboarding camp. On day 1 I warned him to be careful and to try not to injure himself. On day 2 I forgot to warn him. So at 2pm on day 2 I got a call from the snowboard instructor to tell me that my son had fallen and would soon be on his way to hospital in an ambulance.
I know I should be more encouraging of adventure and more accepting of risk-taking in my boys. ...continue reading →
Barbara Sibbald, News and Humanities editor for the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reads the CMAJ Humanities Encounters article "First, do no harm" (subscription required). The article is written by Dr. Sarah Tulk, a family medicine resident at McMaster University.
In the article, Dr. Tulk reflects on the time she treated a terminally ill patient in the emergency department.
He grabbed me... how could I be so stupid.
Grabbed my ponytail... cries
and... and slammed me into the doorframe.
No one was around... I curled into a ball... tried to protect my head. wipes tears
I was almost to the door... Oh God! With my training... why didn't I see it coming?...continue reading →
Interview with Dr. Dennis Ko, interventional cardiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and senior scientist with the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Dr. Ko and colleagues found that patients discharged after an emergency department visit for chest pain were less likely to be seen within 30 days by a primary care physician or cardiologist if they had known cardiac or cerebrovascular conditions, as well as other comorbidities. The paradoxical finding that patients at higher risk for adverse events were less likely to receive follow-up suggests the need for a better strategy to improve transition of care in this context.
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