Shocking moment #1

The doctors at HEAL Africa are on strike. One resident physician comes each day and usually works in the emergency department. For the past week, most of the patients have not been seen by a doctor.

Due to this inadequate care, I started seeing all of the sick adults. This morning a woman presented with chest discomfort and lethargy. An ECG showed that she had a disorder called atrial fibrillation.

I tried to find medicine to help her disorder but had not luck. Around noon, she started getting more somnolent, her pulse was 210 and her blood pressure diminished to an alarming level. I bit the bullet and asked for the defibrillator. When it arrived, we dusted it off and plugged it in.

I covered the patient’s chest with lubricating jelly, put the paddles over her chest, said “I’m very sorry about this” and clicked the button on the paddles. A shock of electricity ran through her body. She lunged off the bed and screamed at the top of her lungs. It was just like in the movies.

Within 30 seconds her pulse normalized, her blood pressure increased and she said “Thank you……please don’t do that again”.

The nurses and I all gave each other high-fives.

I had never been the senior doctor during the defibrillation of a conscious patient. I was nervous, but the results were absolutely amazing!

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One Response to “Shocking moment #1”

  1. Jamie McCabe Says:

    15% stroke risk in the first 4-6 weeks post cardioversion irrespective of CHADS2 score – any chance she can get coumadin (or even a full strength -325mg- aspirin) every day for the next month? — hope all is well, Jamie McCabe

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