Recently, my 16-month-old grandson was at a backyard barbecue with his parents. He had been eating some potato chips when he suddenly stopped breathing and turned blue.
Having had CPR training, my son started rescue breathing and suspecting aspiration, performed toddler airway clearance maneuvers. No obstruction was found. The child slowly awakened but was very drowsy.
Because of the concern for aspiration, an ambulance was called and the child was taken to the nearest hospital.
My son called and told me what happened. My wife and I drove to the hospital, which was 15 minutes from my home, but not one where I knew any staff.
By the time we arrived, child had been in the ED for about 10 minutes. Two nurses were trying to start an IV in his chubby arm, he was crying loudly. We took that to be a very good sign. He had already been examined by a doctor.
After successfully starting the IV, the nurses secured it and calmed down my daughter-in-law. She asked where she could buy a bottle of water. One of the nurses said not to bother and brought her a glass of ice water.
The nurses were gentle and professional, so much so that my wife, who is a former ED nurse, didn’t mention that fact until nearly 5 minutes after we got there.
The initial vital signs taken were remarkable for a temperature of 104° F, prompting the emergency physician to suggest that the child probably had suffered a febrile seizure. He ordered a chest x-ray because of the history of possible aspiration.
The boy stopped crying and began to watch a cartoon on his father’s iPhone. Soon he was smiling and laughing.
The x-ray was negative, and the fever came down with ibuprofen. I resisted the strong urge to point out that lowering a child’s temperature has never been shown to prevent a febrile seizure.
We were all relieved that he was okay.
If you were expecting a tale of mistakes, sloppy nurses, and arrogant doctors, I am sorry to disappoint you.
Essays, blog posts, and media articles about poor care received by doctors or their family members appear regularly in the media.
This is not one of them.
“Skeptical Scalpel” is a surgeon blogs at his self-titled site, Skeptical Scalpel.