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A letter of hope for EMS and E.R. services improvement?

Posted on September 15, 2015 by Sunny South News

Dear Editor:
My hope is this letter will improve EMS and E.R. services -— either by assuring proper procedures are followed or by improving the procedures — including keeping a patient informed, so he doesn’t die from worry, if not from bleeding to death.
Here is the account of an octogenarian’s recent experiences (good, bad and ugly) on Dec. 9, 2014 at 2:15 p.m.
9-1-1 and EMS: The jackall slipped, while I was working on a heavy piece of farm equipment, cutting a forehead artery. Bleeding profusely, I called 9-1-1, giving my land location and telling her I was standing in a pool of blood. The ambulance arrived at 2:34 p.m. and getting to the Lethbridge Regional Hospital at 3:05 p.m. EMS put a gauze bandage on my gash, wrapping my head. They never tried to stop the bleeding. On the ride, I could feel blood running down my neck, soaked up by four layers of clothing.
E.R.: 3:05 p.m. arrival and MRI. The MRI showed no signs of concussion or internal bleeding but external bleeding continued. I waited for the doctor to staple the gash.
5 p.m. The doctor finally located the stapler and located the gash under the clotted blood. The stapling only took 15 seconds.
5:30 p.m. My wife was phoned to come and pick me up (Why not sooner?). After she arrived, we tried to change my bloody t-shirt. By this time, my face colour was ashen and shivering violently and I nearly passed out again on the table. The E.R. doctor later noted I had three “syncope” (passing out) events in E.R. A hot blanket was much appreciated. Nurses checked my blood sugar, gave me some oxygen, then a sandwich.
7 p.m. I was given the option to stay in the hospital or go home. Despite feeling very weak from the loss of blood, I picked home.
The whole ordeal took four and a half hours to get a gash stapled that took 15 seconds. I suppose the MRI was necessary (and appreciated) but the loss of so much blood seemed unnecessary. They estimated I lost 2.5 litres. (For a thin male, that’s more than half). Couldn’t they have stapled the wound sooner?
Removing the staples: When it was time to remove the staples, I went to Picture Butte Urgent Care and was told the doctor did not have the proper tool for removing them. I returned home and removed the staples myself. It took a minute or so.
Conclusion: There were many acts of kindness but regarding the blood loss, stapling and unstapling, the experience seemed one of incompetence, confusion, and disorganization. Maybe they thought I was too old? But in Canada, too, all lives still matter, don’t they? The big question is — why (was) serious bleeding allowed to continue when five speedy clicks of a stapler stopped it. I understand tests for internal bleeding or damage were necessary. But why was the obvious external bleeding allowed to continue for so long?
Hospital records: I applied to get the hospital’s ambulance and E.R. records — the fee is $25. The EMS report said, “approximately one litre of blood loss on scene, trail of blood to where pt [patient] was working on equipment… laceration bled through four bulky dressings; total blood loss approx two litres.
The hospital records show: 15:08 arrived at E.R. 15:25, “laceration stapled by (Editor’s note: Doctor’s name omitted) Pt c/o nausea and syncope, laid flat pressure dressing applied.”
The “stapling” part of this is false — is it a mistake or a lie? (Editor’s note: Doctor’s name omitted) stapled the wound close to 17:00. Why did they wait two hours, knowing the EMS driver estimated a two-litre blood loss? Or why didn’t they inform me not to worry about the blood loss — if it wasn’t a worry?
It took almost three months for my hemoglobin levels to return to normal. I felt debilitated the whole time and still do. Then in April, heart problems started. Are they related to the loss of blood? I wish I knew.
Yours truly,
J.J. Urban,
Shaughnessy.

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