Saturday, November 13, 2010
A Twisted Case of Constipation
(Warning....for non medical readers, you will have to google a lot on this post as it has a lot of medical jargon)
I had a 83 year old male present with constipation and a "knot" to his neck. He was in good shape and health for being 83 years old.
Anyways, his belly felt a little more distended and tympanic than I was expecting for constipation, but he looked really well. Every part of me wanted to just give him an enema, make him poop, and send him home. But because of the mild distension I decided to get an abdominal series (a series of X Rays of the abdomen and chest).
What did I find in the X Ray?? The abdomen looked OK, but his chest X Ray showed a huge lung mass. I then did a full workup, and a cat scan showed diffuse metastasis to the liver, intestines, and bones. That "knot" to the neck was a cancerous lymph node
Next I reviewed his medical history. 6 months ago he was seen in the ER for chest pain and shortness of breath. A X Ray at that time showed a nodule in the lung, and a cat scan was recommended by the radiologist. The patient was admitted to the hospital by the ER Doc. For some reason, the hospitalist decided to a pulmonary embolism work up. His creatinine was a little high so he didn't get a cat scan but a worthless V/Q scan. The V/Q scan was negative and the patient was discharged.
The patient's doctor was never notified about the abnormal chest X Ray. The PATIENT was never notified about the X Ray. And now the patient has horrible cancer. Lots of things went wrong. The hospitalist had 1 diagnosis in mind and chased it....and was wrong. The patient couldn't get the cat scan with contrast, but he could have had a regular cat scan to evaluate the nodule. Even if the hospitalist didn't do the cat scan during admission, he should have informed the patient and the patient's doctor.
I hate to place blame on other doctors. I am sure this was multifactorial. If the ER doctor would not have admitted the patient, it would have been his job to inform the patient's primary doctor about the nodule....but that wasn't the case. The facts in this case are clear. And the prognosis = death.
Posted by SerenityNow at 7:27 AM