Friday, November 23, 2007

Shock of your life


Image used without permission from

I'm staffing a case down in the Electophysiology (EP) lab. Here is where the cardiologists look at the heart from the inside and do various procedures to help fix conduction abnormalities in the heart. They implant defibrillators and pacemakers in the EP labs.

There was a young man on the table, we were getting ready to sedate him for a procedure for an irregular heartbeat. Our anesthesia monitors were being put on and I was looking at the chart. All of a sudden I saw the patient jump up... I thought he was trying to crawl off the bed. Then someone started apologizing....

Apparently she was testing the external defibrillator. This is the device used to put a shock through a patient's chest to put it his/her heart back into a regular rhythm if it goes into a dangerous rhythm. You see this all the time on ER and Grays Anatomy and such. Anyway during this procedures where we are trying to cure these rhythms there is a high likely hood of putting a patient into one of these dangerous rhythms. So as a precaution they always have the external defibrillator in the room and two electrode patches on the patient. In this case during the test of the device someone had already hooked it up to the patient. So this patient got quite a nasty shock. He shook his head like he was stunned and said he was alright three or four times... all the staff were really apologetic.

This would have been a little amusing to me except for the fact that when a person is in a "normal" heart rhythm, shocking them may put them into a dangerous one that is life threatening.

Glad it wasn't me though