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Forums > Social Discussion > Today's little nasty shock

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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:So today I was on my way to Noon Conference (our noon hour of lecture and food, which is a nice little lunch break) and my chief resident stopped me and said "Mike, can I talk with you in my office for a second?"

Now, this is a bit like being called into the vice principal's office with no warning. Let's just say that with this little request I could appreciate that various sphincters in my body were suddenly changing tone wink.

So she said "First, don't worry, you're not in trouble and you didn't do anything wrong." Ok, I relaxed.

"Ok, so a few nights back you were working in the ER and do you remember seeing a totally otherwise healthy 11-month-old kid with an otitis media? (a garden-variety ear infection)."

I said that I remembered the case well.

"Ok," she said, "well I wanted to tell you before anyone else did...he showed up in the ER again at 7 the next morning. DOA."

My eyes bugged out. "What??? He showed up dead???"


Needless to say, this was a bit of a surprise. "Um...Steph...do we know why?"

"No, our best guess is a viral myocarditis. (a viral infection of the heart muscle that can cause sudden death in previously healthy patients). He's going for an autopsy. I heard from the medical examiner's office and she hasn't found anything wrong with him yet, but his tissues haven't been sent for pathology yet.

"Anyway, I wanted to let you know that we looked over your note from the night and that you didn't do anything wrong and there's nothing that you did that could have caused it or nothing that you missed that would have predicted it."

This was a relief. "No, honestly maybe his temperature was a touch warm for your run-of-the-mill otitis, but still well within the realm of reasonable."

"Yup. Are you OK?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. I mean, there's nothing I could have done differently given the information I had. I can't very well admit every kid with an ear infection to the hospital, can I?"

"Of course not. However, if they sue you might be called to testify in court and if that happens we'll talk to you again, OK? Other than that, I just got your first evaluations back and you're doing great so keep up the good work, OK?"


Wow. I'm personally fine. It's not my fault; I did my job. Kids die sometimes and that's part of being a pediatrician.. But wow...that SUCKS. frown

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura


Location: Glasgow
Member Since: 25th Jul 2005
Total posts: 663
Posted:Ouch man. I guess all I can say is that you did your best and that [censored] happens. hug

Hope you're ok and I hope that the family are too. hug

Have faith in what you can do and respect for what you can't


comfortably numb
Location: The countryside
Member Since: 8th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2676
Posted:You know you did your best and that it's not your fault and that's all that matters.

I hope they don't sue. I hope you don't have to testify either!


All the best buddy.

.All things are beautiful if we take the time to look.

Internet Hate Machine
Location: They seek him here, they seek ...
Member Since: 26th May 2004
Total posts: 10530
Posted:I really hate the phrase "Sh!t happens"... this maybe because its true, or that my mum always says it to me, or that it gives me a total sense of loss because I can't control my life.


I am totaly crap at making people feel better, but this definatley wasnt your fault... the most worrying thing, other than the death, is the court case eek

Good luck with it all smile You're doing great biggrin

hug hug hug

The existance of flamethrowers says that someone, somewhere, at sometime said "I need to set that thing on fire, but it's too far away."


Location: London
Member Since: 22nd Oct 2004
Total posts: 422
Posted:hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug hug

There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers...


.:*distracted by shiny things*:.
Location: brizvegas
Member Since: 13th Oct 2003
Total posts: 3776
Posted:oh wow... hug life is strange sometimes isn't it!? hug

do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good to eat!

if at first you do succeed, try not to look too astonished!

smile! grin it confuses people!


Location: Manchester, UK
Member Since: 27th Mar 2005
Total posts: 1261
Posted:My mum is head of my county's school nurses team and specialises in 'special needs'.

Unfortunately this kind of thing happens quite a lot.
I know that probably doesn't make it any easier but from living with her I can fully appreciate the situation that you are in. Not so much concerned that you 'could have done more' as shocked.
Just take comfort in that your colleagues have faith in the fact that you did all that could be reasonably expected.

As you say (and I've seen this with my mum) it unfortunately is part of being a paediatrician. Its a difficult job but I respect anyone who is willing to put themselves in that position for the benefit of others, especially with the state of the laws surrounding practising medicine now. smile


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Perth
Member Since: 31st Mar 2003
Total posts: 5814
Posted:Life is incredibly fragile and as parents we need to recognise this. Which doesnt mean wrapping our kids in cotton wool but does mean we havent a 100% chance of surviving till adulthood even if we do it right. Most of the time we survive..

In your job Mike you will see so many more cases of death just because the odds are skewed. Chances are, even if the patient was in hospital, the outcome would have been the same.
No doubt you will question what you did and that it part of what will make you a good doctor but I think you are also realistic in knowing what our medical system is capable of.

Cases like this is why you have to keep good notes as no doubt you see so many patients in a day that the details must start to blurr a little.

Take care man and look after yourself so that you can do what you want most. hug hug hug hug hug

Is it the Truth?
Is it Fair to all concerned?
Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Im in a lonely battle with the world with a fish to match the chip on my shoulder. Gnu in Binnu in a cnu


Location: In UK for now, but born an liv...
Member Since: 9th Jun 2005
Total posts: 75
Posted:Can't control the uncontrolable!! My sister looking into being a doctor but to be honest after hearing your war stories... mmmm. I dont want her to be! I know she'd come home in a state if anything like that happened to her. At the same time she wants to help people!


HoP's Barman. Trapped aged 6 months
Location: Staines
Member Since: 4th Aug 2004
Total posts: 4437
Posted:Your a good doc Mike, true i may not let u anywhere near me with a cold stethoscope eek but otherwise your great and have a lovely bedside manner, try and brush this one off mate, like u said, [censored] happens

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind

Give a man a fish and he'll eat 4 a day hit a man with a brick and you can have all his fish and his wife

"Will's to pretty for prison" - Simian


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hampshire College, MA, USA
Member Since: 22nd Dec 2004
Total posts: 3533

I hope you'll be okay.


"How do you know if you're happy or sad without a mask? Or angry? Or ready for dessert?"

Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:Like I said... I'm fine. I can't go bananas over every child in the world who dies, pediatrician or no.

I had nothing to do with it. But my heart goes out to the parents...

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura


*Tickles pretty strangers*
Location: Australia
Member Since: 14th Jul 2004
Total posts: 610
Posted:oooh ouchies,
I think that sums up the reason that I couln't do medicine! Hope your ok!! I am sad for the family, losing a child would be the worst thing that could happen to someone. It wasn't your fault though!! hug

What if I should fall right through the centre of the Earth and come out the other side where people walk upside-down?!

Adya Miriyana
Adya Miriyana

Location: Adelaide
Member Since: 4th Feb 2005
Total posts: 6554
Posted:mm ouch! I think what i was going to say has already been said, so have an Adya hug for good measure hug keep up the good work, Doc smile

lauz the caterpilla
lauz the caterpilla

goddess of all things slimey and an interchangeable insect!
Location: nottingham - the land of oppor...
Member Since: 18th May 2005
Total posts: 2443

Shhhhhh! the boobies are trying to sleep.
owner and the property of noddy.
*i was a caterpilla last night wink* - libby_tuesday

Location: York, England
Member Since: 15th Mar 2002
Total posts: 4308
good that you can take it, sucks that it happens.

d says so too.


Keep your dream alive
Dreamin is still how the strong survive

Shalom VeAhavah

New Hampshire has a point....

Arty Farty
Arty Farty

I wear yellow on monday
Location: Farnham Ahoy
Member Since: 5th Jul 2005
Total posts: 551
Posted:woa!!! f*ck the proverbial duck. only just foun this thread. that is mad.

*leaves thread wishing it was never found, and hopes it will never be again*

You'll find me on the dance floor


big and good and broken
Location: lunn dunn, yoo kay
Member Since: 29th Aug 2002
Total posts: 7330

glad your hospital is so supportive mike - it sounds like you work with good people hug

cole. x

"i see you at 'dis cafe.
i come to 'dis cafe quite a lot myself.
they do porridge."
- tim westwood