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From Possible to Probable to Sure to Wrong—Premature Closure and Anchoring in a Complicated Case
with commentary by David E. Newman-Toker, MD, PhD
Admitted to the hospital with headache and word-finding difficulties, a man was given a preliminary diagnosis of vasculitis. Although serial imaging studies seemed to indicate progression of his brain lesions, these were not biopsied and discovered to be glioblastoma multiforme until 4 months later. The delay in diagnosis contributed to his rapid clinical decline.
Total Parenteral Nutrition, Multifarious Errors
with commentary by Joseph I. Boullata, PharmD, RPh, BCNSP
A 3-year-old boy hospitalized with anemia who was on chronic total parenteral nutrition was given an admixture with a level of sodium 10-fold higher than intended. Despite numerous warnings and checks along the way, the error still reached the patient.
with commentary by Reza Alaghehbandan, MD, MSc, and Stephen S. Raab, MD
A woman with abdominal pain, bloating, and weight loss went to her primary physician, who ordered imaging and a biopsy. Lymph node pathology was reported as Castleman disease. A specialist felt the presentation and test results were atypical for this diagnosis. Further testing revealed adult-onset celiac disease.
The Unfamiliar Catheter
with commentary by Sonia C. Swayze, RN, MA, and Angela James, RN, BSN
While drawing labs on a woman admitted after a lung transplant, a nurse failed to clamp the patient's large-bore central line, allowing air to enter the catheter. The patient suffered a cerebral air embolism and was transferred to the ICU for several days.
CVC Placement: Speak Now or Do Not Use the Line
with commentary by Mark Ault, MD, and Bradley Rosen, MD, MBA
A woman found unresponsive at home presented to the ED via ambulance. The cardiology team used the central line placed during resuscitation to deliver medications and fluids during pacemaker insertion. Hours later, a chest radiograph showed whiteout of the right lung, and clinicians realized that the tip of the line was actually within the lung.
Death by PCA
with commentary by Rodney W. Hicks, PhD, RN, FNP
After delivering a healthy infant via Caesarean section, a young woman was to receive morphine via PCA pump. A mix-up in programming the concentration of medication delivered by the pump led to a fatal outcome.
Preventing PICC Complications: Whose Line Is It?
with commentary by Nancy Moureau, BSN, RN, CRNI, CPUI, VA-BC
A woman undergoing treatment for myasthenia gravis via PICC developed extensive catheter-related thrombosis, bacteremia, and sepsis, and ultimately died. Although the PICC line was placed at one facility, the patient was receiving treatment at another, raising questions about who had responsibility for the line.
A Real Heartache
with commentary by Steven K. Polevoi, MD
Following an emergency department (ED) evaluation for chest pain, a patient was discharged with a presumptive diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Two days later, he returned to the ED in severe distress, now with an acute myocardial infarction and a large pericardial effusion.
The Lung Nodule That Refused To Grow
with commentary by Alex A. Balekian, MD, MSHS, and Michael K. Gould, MD, MS
At his first visit with a new physician, a man with a "spot" on his lung reported being followed with CT scans every 6–12 months for 8 years. In total, the patient had more than 20 CT scans.
with commentary by Jeffrey M. Rohde, MD, and Scott A. Flanders, MD
A 32-year-old man went to the emergency department with fever and pleuritic chest pain. Following an extensive work-up, he was discharged with "fever, pleural effusion, and chest wall pain", but no clear diagnosis. He returned to the ED 3 days later with worsening pain, continued fever, a new cough, and dyspnea. The patient was started on antibiotics and admitted for pneumonia with effusion.
with commentary by Manish S. Patel, MD, and Jeffrey L. Carson, MD
At a skilled nursing facility, an elderly woman with myelodysplastic syndrome was found to be mildly anemic, and her oncologist arranged for her to be sent to the hospital and transfused with 2 units of blood. Less than 1 hour after the second unit of blood finished transfusing, the patient rapidly worsened and had a respiratory arrest.
CA-MRSA Skin Infections: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
with commentary by Catherine Liu, MD
A teenage athlete noticed what he thought was an insect bite on his buttock, but only mentioned it to his mother a few days later, when it was much worse. Four days after his pediatrician prescribed antibiotics for CA-MRSA, the boy wound up hospitalized with complications from CA-MRSA, including acute renal failure, respiratory failure, and osteomyelitis of the femur head requiring total hip replacement.
Peripheral IV in Too Long
with commentary by Chi-Tai Fang, MD, PhD
Admitted with a congestive heart failure exacerbation, an elderly man acquired an infection around his peripheral IV site, accompanied by fever, chills, and back pain. Likely secondary to the infected peripheral IV catheter, the patient had developed methicillin-resistant
bacteremia and an epidural abscess.
Wrong Turn through Colon: Misplaced PEG
with commentary by Rachel Sorokin, MD, and Mitchell Conn, MD, MBA
Admitted for treatment of congestive heart failure, an elderly man with a percutaneously placed gastric feeding tube began to have liters of watery stool daily. A tube check revealed that the tip of the feeding tube was in the colon and not the stomach.
A Painful Dilemma
with commentary by Sara N. Davison, MD, MHSc
A woman with end-stage renal disease, who often skipped dialysis sessions, was admitted to the hospital with fever and given intravenous opiates for pain. Because her permanent arteriovenous graft was clotted, she had been receiving dialysis via a temporary femoral catheter, increasing her risk for infection. Blood cultures grew yeast; the patient was diagnosed with fungal endocarditis, likely caused by injections of opiates through her catheter.
with commentary by Isla M. Hains, PhD
An elderly woman was transferred to a tertiary hospital for surgical repair of hip fracture, without complete information or records. The receiving surgeons were not informed that she had a cardiac arrest during induction of anesthesia at the community hospital. Surgery proceeded, but the patient died a few days later.
The Forgotten Line
with commentary by Marta L. Render, MD
After placing a central line in an elderly patient following a heart attack, a community hospital transferred him to a referral hospital for stenting of his coronary arteries. He was discharged to an assisted living facility 2 days later, with the central line still in place.
Turn the Other Cheek
with commentary by John Starling III, MD
Following biopsies for two skin lesions on his left cheek, a patient was sent to an outside surgeon for excision of squamous cell carcinoma. Although the referral included a description and diagram, the wrong lesion was removed.
Missing the Point—Eye Injury
with commentary by Rahul Sharma, MD, MBA; and Douglas Brunette, MD, MPH
A woman presented to the emergency department with an eyelid laceration, which was sutured without complication. Her visual acuity was not formally tested and ophthalmology was not consulted. Ten days later, she presented with eye pain and poor vision. Ophthalmologist evaluation revealed a ruptured globe requiring surgical repair.
Liver Failure After Chemotherapy: Did We Forget Something?
with commentary by John Lubel, MD
A woman undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer developed fulminant liver failure after clinicians failed to check whether she had a history of hepatitis.
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