A Tale of Three Patients

In the same week in late March, three friends/family of mine entered three different hospitals in three different states. Their illnesses were very different and had varied results.

Patient “K”, in California, went in for vein surgery to treat a venous ulcer in her leg. When she checked in, she was greeted with the news that her pre-surgery test results, which had been completed days earlier, came back with the results that she was anemic and she was diagnosed in congestive heart failure. The cough that she thought was a lingering effect from a cold, turned out to be a key symptom of congested lungs, along with the fact that she was retaining quite a bit of fluid. She was sent home with instructions to contact her cardiologist for proper follow up and her leg surgery was postponed.

Patient “S”, in New York City, went for a checkup on her chronic, autoimmune disease, lupus erythematosus, with her rheumatologist on the staff of a research hospital. During the course of the examination, she revealed, and he noticed, that her right side was weaker and more painful than her left. He immediately suspected that she might have had a stroke and set the wheels in motion for a variety of immediate laboratory and imaging tests to determine or rule out stroke or possible blood clots. Luckily, the MRI and x-rays were negative, and it was determined that she was having a flare-up of lupus, attacking the joints on one side. More imaging studies were later done to determine treatment.

Patient “J”, in New Jersey, developed pneumonia two months after an extremely invasive surgery for a very rare cancer in her face and neck. In her weakened condition, and as a result of the invasive surgery, her swallowing mechanism was compromised, causing her to aspirate, which likely caused and continued the pneumonia. Daily x-rays, CT scans, and other imaging techniques were used to determine the extent of her illness and to see if the cancer had spread. During her extended stay, she suffered a heart attack, developed a MRSA infection, and ultimately, my close friend of 40 years passed away.

That day, another friend’s husband, patient “M” was admitted to the ICU with a gastrointestinal bleed and was stabilized...and the cycle goes on.

The patients I described could have been your wife, your son, your mother, or any one of the more than 136 million patients seen every year in Emergency Departments across the US, and the 36 million admitted as inpatients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A plethora of medical equipment and products are used to diagnose, treat, and sustain them. Perhaps one or more of the devices or their components that your company designed, manufactured, or distributed were used on my friends that week. These devices, tools, and techniques are used to diagnose, treat, and transform healthcare. Remember that your contributions can save or prolong millions of lives today and every day. For this, I say a heartfelt “Thank You.”

Beth G. Sisk, Editor

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