“There I was – in a circle with all of the doctors…”
3rd Module MEDICAL ASSISTANT STUDENT SAVES PATIENT Dear Editor: My name is Althenia Morris and I am presently attending Allen School in Brooklyn. [One recent] Saturday, I went to my weekend job where I have been taking care of an 83 year old retired teacher and medic combat officer since April.
It was late in the afternoon. My patient was sitting on the terrace of his apartment. I told him that it was time to come inside and have something to eat. While getting up, he was shaking and seemed weak. I placed him onto his walker and took him to the dining room table where I gave him his dinner. He ate for a while and then, when he tried to get up, was unable to do so and was shaking tremendously, much more so than previously. I had to lift him up, despite the fact that I had surgery on my knee two weeks prior. I was very much concerned about him because I had never seen him like this. I started to check his vital signs at once, a skill only taught to me a week before by Dr. Surrey. His respiration was not normal and his pulse was 47 beats per minute. This is not good. I immediately called my boss and informed that that I was going to check his pulse once more and if it was the same, I would be calling 911. I got off the phone and checked the pulse again, getting the same reading as the previous one. I immediately called 911. Upon their arrival, they asked me what had happened. I told them and they checked his pulse, getting 45 BPM. His respiration was still irregular, so they gave him oxygen. They also did an EKG on him right there and then and the heart rate was too low, so they decided to bring him in to the hospital. They thanked me and noted that his sugar level was not right at the time also. At the hospital, the doctors took him right away and put him into the cardiac unit where they started to run tests on him. They got a pulse rate of 43 BPM, an indication that his pulse rate was decreasing. Also, he had hypertension, his sugar level was not good and he was breathing a little too fast. The paramedic and doctors all shook my hand and said, “You did a very good job! He could have had a cardiac arrest or something else.” While staying there with him at the hospital, I remained very observant (something I learned from my mother, who is a retired practical nurse) and noticed that his skin appeared to be having pulsating movements (spasms). I made this known to the nurse. She didn’t know what it was, which was odd to me, but she immediately brought this to the attention of the doctors who came rushing to take a look at it. They said there was indeed “something going on” with his circulatory system and that his potassium was a bit high and his hypertension was getting higher. Every doctor who came to see him wanted to know who had brought him in. There I was in a circle -with all of the doctors! One of the doctors said, “I wanted to come to see who made this excellent choice for this patient. Who was with him and made the decision?” One of the aides pointed to me. My boss thanked me as well after the doctors told him what I had done. That made me feel good, but I really have to thank the Allen School, and my instructor Dr. Surrey most of all, for teaching me different vital signs and the things that are related to them. Sincerely, Althenia Morris