Now and again we hear of someone dying of complications following a surgery or other medical event.
Here's a tale of a patient crying of complications following a hospital visit.
The patient, concerned about otherwise minor pains and spasms, called her heart doctor Friday to be sure they were not symptoms of a heart attack. That doctor's office directed her to a nearby hospital emergency room. She was promptly delivered there by her husband.
Unlikely: Initial tests, X-rays and EKGs found nothing sinister, but just to be sure, the ER doctor recommended another important blood test, requiring an overnight hospital stay, even though the alarming twinges had stopped. The patient felt perfectly healthy, enough to resume her plans for the evening.
The ER doctor said he would not be able to sleep Friday night if he let her go home without the overnight test. She stayed. That was just the beginning.
The switch? It had been her heart doctor whose office sent her to the emergency room in the first place, and Saturday morning, personnel from that office saw her about 11 a.m., checked all her test results and told her she could go home.
At that point, the husband came to get her, thankful that the whole affair was most likely a false alarm.
Not so fast: She was told that hospital policy required that the admitting doctor release her. Somehow, someone on the hospital staff had, late Friday, gotten her family doctor involved and admitted her under his name, even though no one from his office had seen or spoken with her.
The doctor on call for the family doctor was somewhere in the hospital building but very busy with other patients.
To make this long story short, the doctor on call for the family doctor showed up mid-afternoon, agreed with the heart doctors and left to write the orders that would have set the patient free.
Again, not so fast: Somehow, it was after 4 p.m. before the nurses in charge received those orders and released the patient.
She insists that every medical person she encountered throughout it all was helpful, competent and friendly. Even the hospital food served her Friday night and Saturday was reportedly rather tasty.
Policy: The problem, delaying her release by some six hours, resulted from complications of following “hospital policy” to the letter even when it ran counter to common sense. It appeared that staff members feared doing the sensible thing.
Still, given the same early “symptoms,” the patient would do it all again, to be sure that she was not suffering from a heart attack. It is probably too much to hope that the hospital will try safely to avoid future delaying complications.
'Fantasticks': The musical runs through July 29 at Le Petit, but seat reservations are essential. Call 876-428, or visit houmalittletheatre.com.
Rescue gala: Who Let the Dogs Out, a fundraiser for Hail Mary Rescue, will take place 6-10 p.m. Saturday at the Warren J. Harang Civic Center in Thibodaux. There will be music, food and a silent auction. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Call 438-0667 or go to hailmaryrescue.com.
Folk fest: It will be held Saturday in Natchitoches, just four hours away via Interstate 49. There will be music, food and crafts in Northwestern University's air-conditioned Prather Coliseum.
Signs around Houma: On Main Street in Bayou Cane, “Thirsty Crawfish” offers a selection of 40 beers. Also on Main, near Hollywood Road, "Snoasis" is a snowball stand. On a trailer hauling lawn service equipment: “Crew Cuts.”
In the labyrinth of passageways between Terrebonne General's emergency room and the main lobby, on a door, under a glowing red EXIT sign, another prominent official sign asserts, “This is NOT an Exit, use the double doors.” I found and used them, just around a corner, under another glowing red EXIT sign.
Question: In an emergency, which sign should be obeyed, the original built-in, glowing red EXIT sign or the neat official poster declaring the exit is not an exit?
Art After Dark: The downtown Houma event is Sept. 8, but the application deadline for participating artists is July 25. Applications are available at Downtown Art Gallery, 630 Belanger St., or by email, info@TFAG.org, or terrebonnefineartsguild.org. There is no charge to participate.
Responding? Contact Bill Ellzey at 381-6256, at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or c/o The Courier, P.O. Box 2717, Houma, LA 70361.