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If you have a complex medical emergency, going to just any hospital might not really help you.

Medical emergencies happen out of the blue but heres how you can be prepared for them
Tuesday, July 17, 2018 - 14:47


On June 2, a 62-year-old man was wheeled into the emergency room at Apollo Hospitals at Greams Road in Chennai. He was breathless. He had been taken to another hospital after a heart attack, but as his condition worsened. He was referred to Apollo’s cardiothoracic surgeon for a CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft) to remove a block.

The staff at the ER recount how bad his condition was. “He had severe breathing difficulty and he had to have a tube put down his airway and connected to a ventilator immediately. We did an ECHO and we found that there was a collection of blood outside his heart. It wasn’t allowing his heart to expand,” recounts Dr. Dhavapalani, Head of the Emergency Department at the hospital.

The staff at the ER, however, figured out that the heart attack was the simpler issue. “What put him at death’s door was the seepage of blood. Sometimes after a heart attack, the weakened heart walls may rupture. In his case, it was a small, sealable hole causing the seepage. The patient had suffered life threatening major complications as a result of his hear attack,” the doctor points out.

The man had a cardiac arrest, the blood in the sack surrounding the heart was removed and Apollo revived him. “But the thing is, we went beyond just reviving him. Most often in ERs, doctors are not able to identify the key issue. In the first few hours, if you are not able to do it, he may survive for now, but die later. The key issues have to be identified immediately, and we did that,” Dr. Dhavapalani explains.

Dr. Dhavapalani

Dr. Dhavapalani says that the problem with most emergency wards in the country is they don’t have a holistic view of the issues patients come in with. There are very few hospitals which look at emergency as a specialty.

“We have to map out the entire problem quickly. We have 24/7 specialists who find the root of the problem,” he explains, “It is imperative that we don’t miss a diagnosis.”

What you need to know

What this means to patients is that they can be prepared for medical emergencies by doing some research about the ERs near them. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Choose an emergency hospital carefully. It is not enough to go to any hospital during an emergency, skilled doctors and good infrastructure really matter. They have to be driven by strict protocols and guidelines.

Emergency is a relatively new specialty in India, there are not many well-trained emergency specialists at hospitals. Find out which hospital near you has them and go to them during an emergency. "All our emergency doctors have accredited qualifications in Emergency Medicine and so all our staff are well trained. Many, in fact, go over to the UK to work and seamlessly shift into the advanced healthcare systems,” Dr. Dhavapalani says.

Do not trivialise medical issues. A pain near the heart might be more than just a ‘gas problem’, it could be signs of a heart issue which needs immediate attention. “After a minor stroke, people will feel paralysed, but some tend to think the arm feels different because they slept oddly. Such thinking could be very dangerous.”

It’s not only pain and bleeding that should get you to the hospital. After any accident, you should get yourself fully checked even if you don’t feel too much pain.

This article is a part of a partnership series between The News Minute and Apollo Hospitals to bring you latest medical developments and inspiring stories. The article was produced by TNM Marquee in association with Apollo Hospitals.