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Spotlight Cases Only
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.
FEBRUARY 2013NewSpotlight Case
Delay in Treatment: Failure to Contact Patient Leads to Significant Complications
with commentary by David Shapiro, MD, JD
After her discharge, providers were unable to reach a young woman hospitalized for heavy vaginal bleeding, whose chlamydia culture returned positive. The delay in treatment led to infection of her fallopian tubes and required hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics.
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.
DECEMBER 2012Spotlight Case
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.
Electrocardiogram Results: ***READ ME***
with commentary by Joseph S. Alpert, MD
A woman with new onset chest pain was admitted to the hospital. Although the computer readout of her electrocardiogram stated "***ACUTE MI***" at the top, the nursing assistant who performed the test placed it in the patient's bedside chart without notifying a nurse or physician. The patient was, in fact, having a myocardial infarction, whose treatment was delayed.
Missed Pneumonia
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.
NOVEMBER 2012Spotlight Case
Transfusion Overload
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.
Buprenorphine and the Medically Ill Patient
with commentary by Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD
A man with a long history of opioid dependence (and smoking) went to a substance abuse program for detoxification. The patient received buprenorphine/naloxone and was found unresponsive and cyanotic a few hours later. He was diagnosed with opiate-induced respiratory distress complicated by pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Looking for Meds in All the Wrong Places
with commentary by Elizabeth Manias, PhD, RN, MPharm
After having a seizure in the emergency department, a woman was to receive intravenous administration of an antiseizure medication. The nurse misread the medication order, gathered 32 vials of the medication, and administered a 10-fold overdose to the patient, who died several minutes later.
OCTOBER 2012Spotlight Case
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.
Undetected Foreign Object
with commentary by Robert R. Cima, MD, MA
Following successful bypass surgery and mitral valve repair, an elderly man with diabetes, hypertension, and end-stage renal disease continued to attend hemodialysis and other clinic visits regularly. Eight months later, he was admitted to the hospital with shaking chills, confusion, and a collection of pus in his chest. A surgical procedure to free the trapped lung also uncovered a surgical instrument from the previous surgery.
Empty Handoff
with commentary by Allan Goldman, MB, and Ken Catchpole, PhD
Prior to surgery, failure to transmit information about a man whose blood glucose level fell precipitously after receiving insulin, combined with the fact that the electronic health record (EHR) had not been updated with current glucose levels, led to another dangerous drop in the patient's glucose level.
SEPTEMBER 2012Spotlight Case
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 Staphylococcus aureus 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.
Residual Anesthesia: Tepid Burn
with commentary by Matt M. Kurrek, MD, and Rebecca S. Twersky, MD, MPH
Following spinal anesthesia for an outpatient procedure, a patient is discharged and instructed to take sitz baths with tepid water. The patient misunderstood the instructions, using scalding water instead, and residual anesthesia blunted his response to the hot water.
AUGUST 2012Spotlight Case
No News May Not Be Good News
with commentary by Carlton R. Moore, MD, MS
Drawn on a Thursday, basic labs for a 10-year-old girl came back over the weekend showing a high glucose level, but neither the covering physician nor the primary pediatrician saw the results until the patient's mother called on Monday. Upon return to the clinic for follow-up, the child's glucose level was dangerously high and urinalysis showed early signs of diabetic ketoacidosis.
JULY 2012
Sloppy and Paste
with commentary by Robert Hirschtick, MD
An elderly man presented to an emergency department (ED) with new onset chest pain. In reviewing the patient's electronic medical record (EMR), the ED physician noted a history of "PE," but the patient denied ever having a pulmonary embolus. Further investigation in the EMR revealed that, many years earlier, the abbreviation was intended to stand for "physical examination." Someone had mistakenly copied and pasted PE under past medical history, and the error was carried forward for years.
JULY 2012
Misleading Complaint
with commentary by Krishan Soni, MD, MBA, and Gurpreet Dhaliwal, MD
A man presented to the emergency department (ED) complaining of knee problems, and the triage nurse wrote down the chief complaint as "bilateral knee pain." The ED physician diagnosed a musculoskeletal injury and prepared to discharge him, but the patient was noticeably unsteady. Further examination and imaging revealed a subdural hematoma requiring urgent neurosurgical intervention.
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