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What they won’t tell you at a teaching hospital …

February 9, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

This post from an atrial fibrillation support group:

I had an ablation at Johns Hopkins this past week and am very upset at the outcome. I haven’t had any [afib] symptoms but experienced severe shortness of breath.  After xrays and tests it was discovered that the phrenic nerve was damaged and I now have parylasis of the right diaphragm. I have a continuous dry cough and such SOB I can’t lay down to sleep. I can’t even sniffle.

“I’m told if it doesn’t resolve in 24-48 hrs [which it didn’t] that it may take 3 months to a year to recover and that is not guaranteed.. I’m very dissappointed and confused. I’m also on amiodarone and worry about lung involvement with a weakened respiratory system. I was released after 4 days and an appointment for 3 months from now. I don’t know where to start to figure out what I need to do now to make this better.”

That’s what happens when you get clipped at a teaching hospital—the bum’s rush. This was supposed to be a safe and minimally invasive outpatient sort of procedure, and here you are at home after an unexpected hellish  four days at the hospital;  wounded, scarred, scared and confused, with more questions than answers. It hurts to breath.

The person who caused this situation is Dr. Hugh Grosvenor Calkins, who is,  according to the victim of this story,  the best doctor at the best facility in the land. That is what they would have you believe—and they do have most of us believing it. People want to believe it, and once you’ve put your life into the doctor’s hands you have got to believe it.

As for the complication, Dr. Calkins was quick with an unsolicited proclamation that he himself did the procedure, that it’s a very rare thing that happened to you, and that actually it’s sort of your fault because your anatomy is different than everyone else’s.

“I was informed of many side effects but not that one. When I asked why I wasn’t informed I was told it is rare.

“Also talking to the radiologist and Drs. and looking at the ct scans and TEE results I have an abnormal heart anatomy. Things are not where they are supposed to be. "

It can’t be good for your ego when America’s Best Hospital says you have abnormal, misplaced organs.

Maybe Hugh Calkins is behind in his journal reading, otherwise he would have seen that phrenic nerve injury is “a well-described complication of AF,” and he would have read about “currently available tools to avoid the complication.”

Or maybe it was that a doctor training for his fellowship in electrophysiology did the job. After all, the head of the EP lab at Johns Hopkins is on record as saying that for ablation procedures at Hopkins, “the attending shows up to be there during the burn.”

What did you expect?


  1. April 12, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Like this site. Yeah…This is what I do every day. However I fail most of the time because patients are too depressed and too sick to fight back. Or they fear retaliation. I am working on a book and have a web site in development Shadow of Medicine. I am publishing a book on these events and actions to take. There are things you can do with out millions of dollars. These things will not make you money but can reduce your mental and emotional pain.
    I need some patients for the Federal Law suit I am putting together. Proper informed consent is not given at teaching hospitals. There is no formal rounds and teaching as we had in the past…it vanished years ago.A chief needs to be there ALL of the time and not in their office working on fund raising dinners. There is away to change this but it will take a major FEDERAL law suit and lots of media. I recently nearly died because a nurse decided I was homeless and just needed a bed. She based this on my appearance. She did not know I am an MD. She will be stressed for her actions. I was left alone for 4 hours with a blood sugar of 850. Dip stick of my urine when I came in would of done the dx and got me treated. But I had to get nearer to death. So how do I deal with this? I am writing a newsletter of the event and I will give it out to the entire hospital . It will take some time for them to stop me .
    Names on the newsletter …of the MDs and RN who abused me. I am hear to support this work. Doctor Vikki …I can put you on my newspaper and on radio

  2. Michael Breitweiser
    April 24, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Just starting to read, however, as a practicing Registered Nurse for 28 years, I can say based on my experience, true informed consent often does not occur.

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