Sunday, February 20, 2011

Saving Lives

When my parents call me, they sometimes ask if I've save any lives recently.   Well, last night on my overnight ER shift, I can proudly say that I helped  strongly contributed DID save three lives.

#1- A guy's heart stopped beating and I started CPR.  Let me just tell you that doing CPR and starting CPR are two  very different beasts.  I've done CPR a few times, and it's not that big of a deal.  But starting CPR- whew.  That takes balls.  You're not just replacing someone whose already been banging away on their chest, you're the one deciding-  Hey, this guy's dead.  I'd better start doing something about it.  Not only did I start CPR for the first time,  but we also got the guys' heart beat back.  If you watch any medical shows on TV, you're probably thinking that it's normal to get the heart beat back; but it's not.  It happens less than 5% of the time, for the type of dead that this guy was.  It was my magical chest compressions that gave him the will to live, I think. :-)

#2 & #3- A husband and wife came into the ER with nausea and vomiting after eating dinner together.  My resident and attending were both eager to write them off as viral gastroenteritis or food poisoning- but in my obsessive medical student way, I suggested that we test them for carbon monoxide poisoning (mostly because we had just had a lecture on it!)  And guess what?  They were both puking because their kitchen was cold when they were eating, so they brought their generator into the kitchen to run their space heater.  Generator in closed space= carbon monoxide poisoning.  SLAM DUNK.  Slap some oxygen masks on those folks before they settle into a nice coma.

It's nice to feel Doctor-ly.  It's nice to feel confident enough in my own knowledge and instinct that I'm able to DO THINGS that end up saving lives. I think I can do this doctor thing.  In fact, I just might be pretty good at it.

...came up when I searched Google Image for "happiest" my sleep deprived state, it somehow seemed the most appropriate picture
**Stupid disclaimer- as always, I changed pieces of the story to make the patients' stories unrecognizable because otherwise I'd be violating patient confidentiality.  I did not, however, alter how awesome I was.


  1. What a great day!!! thanks for sharing

  2. What a night you had! Good call on the carbon monoxide case but I must admit that I am disturbed that your resident and attending didn't check that out. There are stories in the paper about that weekly during the heating season. We just had a sheriff's deputy and his wife die from it and despite the fact that it was well covered by the paper and TV there was a second case the next week.

  3. Nice blog!
    May I re-post some of your pieces at You'll be fully credited and linked, of course.