Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday morning

Greg has flown to California. He arrives at the hospital at 5:30am this morning. Except for the airline losing his bag (in it most of the $300 pills), he is doing well. At 7:30am, just before he is wheeled into the OR, he calls me. The doctor there has told him that oral vancomycin is useless. It only works in the gut. It does not get into the blood. He wants me to call the doctor who prescribed it and get it sorted out.

I call back the practice and ask them to page the doctor. They say she’ll get back to me. Ten minutes later the phone rings. It is yet again ANOTHER doctor. From my count, this is the 13th doctor we have talked to about this. “So, tell me the story,” he says. I can’t believe it!

“This is the deal,” I say while trying to get the kids out the door for school, ”My husband is being wheeled into the OR in California and he just found out he is on the wrong antibiotic, that the one he is on is ineffective. I want you to consult with an infectious disease expert and find out what antibiotic he should be on and get that antibiotic to my husband. He is at Stanford Hospital under the care of Dr. Jeffrey Norton.”

He asks me if I have the phone number at Stanford. I don’t, but I tell him that he could look it up on the internet, that it is a very well-known hospital. I give him Greg’s cell phone number and my mom’s cell phone number, they’re both at the hospital I tell him.

I am so furious! I don’t want this to ruin my day. I have my make-up ski lesson today. My ride comes in 5 minutes. I don’t want their mess up to impact that as well. I don't want to sit home angry and worried all day.

I think back. It was something I didn’t question, I didn’t double check, and that was wrong. Always question, always double check, do your own research. This is so fundamental to getting good health-care these days. I was asleep on the job on this one. I just so wanted it to be simple.

Signs I had that the antibiotic was wrong:

The ER doctors ALWAYS consulted with infectious disease specialist before using any antibiotic.

The ER doctors talked (to each other, I overheard) about going onto two oral antibiotics.

My mom had IV vancomycin and when she switched to orals it was a different antibiotic.

There was no evidence that the family doctor also had expertise in infectious disease.

The Target pharmacy didn’t carry it because it is a seldom-used drug.

Sunday morning I had a sudden flash that maybe it was too simple, the oral vancomycin might not be right. Before I called the doctor to double check, I reassured myself that of course it was right, it was the same medication, it seemed so consistent.


Cathy picks me up and we drive up to El Dora. I vent the entire way.

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