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This case describes the failure to identify a brewing abdominal process, which over the span of hours led to fulminant sepsis with rapid clinical deterioration and eventual demise. The patient’s ascitic fluid cultures and autopsy findings confirmed bowel perforation, but this diagnosis was never explicitly considered.
A 42-year-old man with a history of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use disorder and anxiety disorder, was seen in the emergency department (ED) after a high-risk suicide attempt by hanging. The patient was agitated and attempted to escape from the ED while on an involuntary psychiatric commitment. The ED staff treated him as a “routine boarder” awaiting an inpatient bed, with insufficiently robust behavioral monitoring.
A 14-year-old girl was admitted to the hospital with a new diagnosis of type 1 diabetes mellitus without ketoacidosis. Before discharge, medications intended for home use were delivered to the patient’s bedside, but the resident physician noticed a discrepancy. An insulin pen and pen needles had been ordered, but an insulin vial and extra insulin syringes were delivered. Neither the patient nor the parents had received education on how to draw up and administer insulin using a vial and syringe.
This case highlights two “never events” involving the same patient. A first-year orthopedic surgery resident was consulted to aspirate fluid from the left ankle of a patient in the intensive care unit. The resident, accompanied by a second resident, approached the wrong patient and inserted the needle into the patient’s right ankle. At this point, a third resident entered the room and stated that it was the incorrect patient. The commentary highlights the importance of a proper time out and approaches to improve communication among all members of the care team.
This case describes an older adult patient with generalized abdominal pain who was eventually diagnosed with inoperable bowel necrosis. Although she appeared well and had stable vital signs, triage was delayed due to emergency department (ED) crowding, which is usually a result of hospital crowding. She was under-triaged and waited three hours before any diagnostic studies or interventions commenced. Once she was placed on a hallway gurney laboratory and imaging studies proceeded hastily.
Amin D, Cosby K. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; September 2023. Publication No. 23-0040-6-EF.
Irving, TX: American College of Emergency Physicians; 2023.
Medstar Health. Lyon Village Community House, Arlington, VA, October 19 - 20, 2023.