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Benefits vs. Risks of Intraosseous Vascular Access
with commentary by Raymond L. Fowler, MD, and Melanie J. Lippmann, MD
During a code blue, an intraosseous line was placed in the left tibia of an elderly woman after several unsuccessful attempts to obtain peripheral venous access. Following chest compressions and advanced cardiovascular life support protocol, spontaneous circulation returned and the patient was transferred to the intensive care unit. A few hours later, the left leg was dusky purple with sluggish distal pulses.
Liver Biopsy: Proceed With Caution
with commentary by Don C. Rockey, MD
Presenting with jaundice and epigastric pain, a woman with a history of multiple malignancies was admitted directly for an ultrasound-guided liver biopsy. After the procedure, the patient had low blood pressure and complained of new abdominal pain, which worsened over the next 2 hours. The bedside nurse soon found the patient unresponsive.
Pitfalls in Diagnosing Necrotizing Fasciitis
with commentary by Terence Goh, MBBS, and Lee Gan Goh, MBBS
Admitted with bruising from a fall and persistent pain on his left side, a patient was kept in the emergency department overnight due to crowding. After being reevaluated by the surgical service the next day, the patient was urgently taken to the operating room for probable necrotizing fasciitis and pyomysitis.
CVC Removal: A Procedure Like Any Other
with commentary by Michelle Feil, MSN, RN
Following removal of a central venous catheter placed during his admission for a prolonged course of intravenous antibiotics, a young man with a history of Behçet disease was discharged from the hospital. Shortly thereafter, he presented to the emergency department with acute onset shortness of breath and a "whistling sound" coming from his neck. Diagnosed with air embolism, he was admitted to the ICU.
May I Have Another?—Medication Error
with commentary by Michael Wolf, PhD, MPH
A man admitted to the hospital for his first seizure was found to have been taking up to 10 tablets of 10 mg zolpidem per night (an unsafe dose) to fall asleep and had recently run out. The instructions on the medication label had stated: "If ineffective, take another."
Wandering Off the Floors: Safety and Security Risks of Patient Wandering
with commentary by Thomas A. Smith, CHPA, CPP
Hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal, an elderly man was feeling "cooped up" by hospital day 6 and left the floor without informing any providers. An hour later upon return to his room, he complained of new arm pain. While off hospital grounds, the patient had fallen and broken his arm.
Discontinued Medications: Are They Really Discontinued?
with commentary by Celina Garza Mankey, MD, and Prathibha Varkey, MD, MPH, MBA
An elderly man on warfarin and aspirin for chronic atrial fibrillation and previous cerebrovascular accident presented to the emergency department with a severe headache. Found to have bilateral subdural hematomas and a supratherapeutic INR (4.9), he was admitted to the ICU. Even though the patient was discharged with his warfarin discontinued permanently, the outpatient pharmacy kept it on the active medication list and refilled his mail order prescription automatically, leading again to an elevated INR.
Raise the Bar
with commentary by James Stotts, RN, MS, CNS, and Audrey Lyndon, PhD, RNC
In the preoperative area, a man scheduled for excision of a groin lipoma received regional anesthesia (right iliac block) and was taken to the operating room. There, without alerting anyone, the patient attempted to rise to use the restroom, but—because his leg was numb—fell and hit his head. He reported acute neck pain and was transferred to the local emergency department.
Medication Reconciliation With a Twist (or Dare We Say, a Patch?)
with commentary by Janice L. Kwan, MD
An elderly woman with a history of dementia underwent surgical resection of new colon cancer, which relieved a bowel obstruction. She developed acute delirium postoperatively, and the team discovered they had neglected to capture her cholinesterase inhibitor patch (a medication for dementia) in the official medication reconciliation list.
CYP450 Drugs: Expect the Unexpected
with commentary by Charles John Gonzalez, MD
Scheduled for a hip replacement, a man with AIDS presented with sciatica. The spine surgeon administered a corticosteroid injection to control his symptoms. Soon after the patient experienced sweats, abdominal pain, weight gain, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, and anxiety. He was diagnosed with Cushing syndrome due to an adverse interaction between the HIV medication and the corticosteroid.
Relapse Secondary to Medication Access Issue
with commentary by Paul C. Walker, PharmD, and Jerod Nagel, PharmD
Following a hospitalization for
–associated diarrhea, a woman with HIV/AIDS and B-cell lymphoma was discharged with a prescription for a 14-day course of oral vancomycin solution. At her regular retail pharmacy, she was unable to obtain the medicine, and while awaiting coverage approval, she received no treatment. Her symptoms soon returned, prompting an emergency department visit where she was diagnosed with toxic megacolon.
A "Reflexive" Diagnosis in Primary Care
with commentary by John Betjemann, MD, and S. Andrew Josephson, MD
Despite new back pain and worsening symptoms of tingling, pain, and weakness bilaterally, in both hands and feet, a man recently diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy was not sent for further testing after repeated visits to a primary care clinic. By the time neurologists saw him, they diagnosed critical cervical cord compression, which placed the patient at risk for permanent paralysis.
Late Anemia Following Rh Disease in a Newborn
with commentary by Thomas B. Newman, MD, MPH, and M. Jeffrey Maisels, MB, BCh, DSc
Following delivery and successful phototherapy for hyperbilirubinemia, an infant developed anemia over the next few weeks. Found to have Rh hemolytic disease, the infant was admitted to the hospital for blood transfusion and close monitoring.
with commentary by William Ventres, MD, MA
A teenager presented to an urgent care clinic with new bumps and white spots near her tongue. Although she was diagnosed with herpetic gingivostomatitis, the after-visit summary incorrectly populated the diagnosis of "thrush" from the triage information, which was not updated with the correct diagnosis. The mistake on the printout caused confusion for the patient's mother and necessitated several follow-up communications to clear up.
Tough Call: Addressing Errors From Previous Providers
with commentary by William Martinez, MD, MS, and Gerald B. Hickson, MD
Hospitalized 3 times within 2 months presumably for sepsis, a woman with diabetes on metformin presented to the emergency department with the same set of symptoms as her previous admissions. After reviewing her records, the admitting team determined that the patient's presentation for this and earlier admissions was more consistent with acute lactic acidosis secondary to metformin than sepsis.
An Easily Forgotten Tube
with commentary by Karen Ousey, PhD, RGN
A patient admitted for acute liver failure, acute renal failure, respiratory failure, and hepatic encephalopathy had a rectal tube placed to manage diarrhea. Two weeks into his hospitalization, dark red liquid stool was noted in the rectal tube, and the patient was found to have a large ulcerated area in the rectum, likely caused by the tube.
Nonsustained Ventricular Tachycardia After Acute Coronary Syndromes: Recognizing High-Risk Patients
with commentary by Jonathan P. Piccini, MD, MHS; L. Kristin Newby, MD, MHS; and Robert M. Califf, MD
A woman with coronary artery disease, diabetes, and hypertension was admitted for a myocardial infarction. Following percutaneous coronary intervention, the patient had several runs of non-sustained ventricular tachycardia (NSVT) and later experienced a cardiac arrest secondary to sustained VT.
Multifactorial Medication Mishap
with commentary by Annie Yang, PharmD, BCPS
Despite multiple checks by physician, pharmacist, and nurse during the medication ordering, dispensing, and administration processes, a patient received a 10-fold overdose of an opioid medication and a code blue was called.
SNFs: Opening the Black Box
with commentary by Joseph G. Ouslander, MD, and Alice Bonner, PhD, GNP
Following a lengthy hospitalization, an elderly woman was admitted to a skilled nursing facility for further care, where staff expressed concern about the complexity of the patient's illness. A few days later, the patient developed a fever and shortness of breath, prompting readmission to the acute hospital.
Check the Anesthesia Machine
with commentary by Daniel Saddawi-Konefka, MD, and Jeffrey B. Cooper, PhD
Prior to coronary artery bypass surgery, a man with morbid obesity, hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, claustrophobia, and 3-vessel coronary artery disease was given oxygen to achieve pre-oxygenation. Within a few minutes, the anesthesia team noted the patient was unresponsive with shallow breathing. Further investigation revealed the anesthesia machine was delivering 12% desflurane (a general anesthetic) instead of oxygen alone.
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