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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Should Have Called Sooner

Most calls that come in to our 911 system are really non emergent. I'm sure the people calling think that it's an emergency or at least I'd like to think that they do but in all reality, most of our calls are just the adult version of what I do for my 2 year old. A band-aid and a proverbial kiss to make everything better. It's psychological treatment. Every once in a while though we get a call that should have come much sooner.

While preparing lunch the tones went off (you ever notice that a lot of my calls happen at meal time? Maybe it just seems that way). We were responding to a known address. The woman there had breathing problems and called fairly frequently. Enough that I knew the address when I heard it.

This time, as we approached the door, we were greeted by the woman, not her husband. Strange. I asked what was going on and she said she thought her husband was having a stroke.

Going through my assessment I noted that she had first noticed his symptoms (drooling, facial droop and slurred speech) about 8 hours earlier. Her husband had also had a stroke about a year before but on the opposite side. She didn't call earlier because she thought the symptoms would go away after a nap.

Unfortunately for him they had waited too long. There is only a small window of time during which we can administer thrombolytics (clot busting drugs). My patient was now well beyond that. There wouldn't be much that they could do for him at the stroke center. There was even less that we could do. We were reassuring as we could be and transported him to the hospital as soon as we could.

We also spent a little time educating the wife. We stopped short of saying that she should have called sooner but we did encourage her not to wait next time. When it comes to CVA's, waiting can cause permanent disability.
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