Tech Thoughts from a Hospital Bed

Scott Mace, July 1, 2014

After emergency surgery, a few observations on the clinical narrative, the value of the medical record in any form, and the small miracles that make our healthcare system hum.

On Monday, June 16, I was preoccupied, preparing to head to the annual Computer-Physician Symposium run by AMDIS in southern California. But I had a scheduled doctor's appointment to tick off my to-do list first.

Fortunate thing.

A block from my doctor's office, as I was crossing a street in Alameda, California, I felt like my guts had been sliced open. I doubled over in pain and, with effort, continued to my doctor's doorstep.

In the exam room, my doctor found my abdomen distended and me generally feeling like I wasn't going anywhere but the emergency room.

The staff called me a taxi, and 15 minutes later, I was at Alameda Hospital, gladly accepting a wheelchair ride. The pre-op history report told the story: "CT scan shows acute appendicitis."

So, that night, into surgery I went. Initially, the surgeon detected "no sign of perforation" and I remained "alert and oriented" going under anesthetic. But, once inside, he found a "gangrenous appendix with perforation" and what should have been a 30-minute procedure took two and a half hours.  It sounds just about as awful as it felt.

[If you're really curious, here's a video of a laparoscopic appendectomy of a ruptured appendix.]

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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