Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Damn abbreviations...

Nightshift Shiteshift.

Another night in the van. I didn't sleep too well during the day, and didn't get much sleep the night before - I was feeling a little hazy. We do a few calls. We clear from hospital after a job, and I start to write the date in the case sheet, ready for the next call; I put it in as if it were past midnight. I glance at my watch: 10pm. Bugger me. It feels like 3am.

An hour later later we get called to a patient, the screen reads: "HYPO, ALTERED CONS STATE".

I'm attending, and I mentally prepare for the job. Hypotension a.k.a. low blood pressure can lead to altered conscious states. Not enough blood in the brain, not enough oxygen, nutrients, sugar etc, it makes you go a bit funny. Could be anything.

We whizz along, emergency lights allowing us to treat red lights as give way signs, allowing us to swap the shown speed limit to a speed we're comfortable with. We arrive at the house, we pour out of the truck, grab our gear. In the hallway of the house sits our patient, husband holding her sitting upright. She is unresponsive.

I go blank.

Husband starts talking about insulin, diabetes, no food. In a smooth move PTSD colleague kicks in and takes over, grabbing the blood sugar testing kit, and hints me on grabbing the Glucagon. I clue in that this call has something to do with diabetes, not enough sugar in our patients blood. I desperately try to yank the picture of our screen in the van in to my memory. Why didn't it tell me the patient has a problem with her diabetes? Did I not read that bit? Curse you calltaker, you robbed me of my preparation. This is getting my brain tied up in knots. Not good.

After a couple of minutes, we get out patient sorted, we take her to hospital for observation as she is feeling pretty nauseous.

After we deliver the patient, do the handover to the triage nurse, clean and restock the ambulance, I take a good look at our van screen, and read again: "HYPO, ALTERED CONS STATE".

Oh, that probably stands for Hypoglycaemia, not Hypotension.

A lesson lived is a lesson learnt. Don't think I'll get that muddled up again.