Every Therapist's Nightmare
Fascinating article today in the Reading (PA) Eagle
. Physical therapist Kai Pedersen, who owns South Mountain Physical Therapy
in Reading, was going about his day when a patient began to show symptoms of distress.
Rosie Schucker, 74, fit the profile of a typical patient in outpatient therapy. Schucker had undergone a total knee replacement, was otherwise healthy, and had been a patient of Pedersen's for several visits. She was progressing well.
That is, until one visit in January, when she didn't appear well.
"She came in that day looking real tired," Pedersen told his hometown newspaper. "She wasn't herself, and she said she had fallen at home. She was complaining of some shortness of breath and some dizziness."
Responding coolly but swiftly, Pedersen assessed her vitals -- Schucker's blood pressure and pulse were high enough for Pedersen to alert Schucker's family physician by phone, who instructed Pedersen to call for an ambulance.
At Reading Hospital, testing revealed deadly time bombs -- embolisms in both Schucker's heart and lung.
"She was close to dying," Pedersen said.
Apart from the admiration for Pedersen's quick action, I'm struck by another thought. Physical therapists in outpatient community settings work with a high percentage of patients who have undergone invasive medical procedures, many of whom are on medication and in differing progressions of disease states. Part of me is surprised that we don't hear stories like this more often.
For the outpatient PTs out there, have you ever had a patient emergency, and how did you respond? Does PT school, mentoring and/or facility-based training opportunities adequately prepare you for such an unforeseen event? And does your facility have a policy in place for things like portable defibrillators and what to do in an emergency?