Aortic dissection is one of the true surgical emergencies that still exists in the field of cardiac surgery. Any busy practice can say that there are patients frequently turning up in the emergency department with acute and chronic aortic dissection. Smaller practices may not get as much exposure to this type of pathology. In speaking to the emergency department and to transferring hospitals, I have come to understand that there is some confusion among the medical community in general, and perhaps even in the cardiac surgery community, regarding the appropriate classification of aortic dissection. I thought a brief primer in classification might be a useful review.
CT Assist Blog
In a little over 200 years, opioids went from being a promising new discovery to a killer whose fingers reached into every walk of life, killing unsuspecting victims from all socioeconomic classes. Morphine was first created from opium in 1804, and in 2008 drug overdoses, primarily caused by opioids, surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of accidental death in the United States. The saddest part of this whole story is that we, as prescribers, are largely responsible for this crisis reaching epidemic proportions. That’s not to say we have done it intentionally. As healthcare practitioners, we innately want to ease people’s suffering. That need is paired with modern day society’s demand of a quick fix. Patients often want a pill that will make them feel better, and we are sometimes all too willing to oblige. When the prescription runs out, and refills are denied, patients may seek illegal means of obtaining a continued supply of pills.
Whether you are on a team of 2 or a team of 20, any good cardiac surgery service starts with a good team. In preparing for this piece, I looked up the word team in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. While there are several definitions listed, I found two of them particularly appropriate. First was, “two or more draft animals harnessed to the same vehicle or implement”. I saw this as an interesting metaphor for how I often feel at work. Second was simply, “a group on one side”.
Topics: Cardiac Surgery
Aside from the fact that as I grow older, I become more empathetic to the emotions of my patients and their families, two things have occurred over the past few months that have had a profound effect on the way I approach patients and families. Last month, at one of the quarterly VCSQI (Virginia Cardiac Services Quality Initiative) meetings that I attend, we were introduced to a husband and wife who lost their adult daughter after a series of preventable medical errors. Then, more recently, a friend underwent a heart transplant, only to come out on ECMO with primary graft dysfunction. At this point, we are not sure she is going to survive this. Both of these incidents have really made me think about the fear and emotions that our patients and their families are experiencing after cardiac surgery, and how we can better help them through difficult times.
In my years practicing as a cardiac surgery PA, I have only come across two patients with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (TTC). Perhaps large teaching centers have higher volumes of this type of patient. When I came across my most recent patient, I was reminded that it is a fascinating, if not terrifying, disease process. Here is a brief review of the epidemiology, causes and clinical presentation, and outcomes after diagnosis. I have also included a few articles I found useful or reference.
Maintaining order on a busy cardiac surgery service can be a daunting task. If you work in a practice where there are several surgeons and advance practice providers, every person is going to have a different idea about how to care for patients. It is true that there are many ways to treat a patient after cardiac surgery, and no medical problem can be solved with a cookie cutter approach. This being said, having a practice manual filled with guidelines can ensure that all patients are getting consistent care, provide new hires with an additional resource, and allow for the surgeons’ vision of how they want patients cared for to be realized without him or her always having direct patient contact.
Topics: Cardiac Surgery
As the years go by, I feel like I’ve become better equipped to handle any situation I face at work. I’m not saying I always know exactly what to do, but the experience I have obtained over the years has given me a large tool box to work from. I can usually get out of any situation with a minimal amount stress. Unfortunately, this same principle does not apply to vein harvesting. The bad veins always find me. I have a running joke at work that I can create drama in any vein harvesting situation. Don’t get me wrong; I always find a way to get the vein out, and rarely will it need any repairs. But sometimes I think it takes years off of my life. As I sat and thought about this I realized that difficult veins have given me a tool box for vein harvesting too. Experienced harvesters will have heard these tips before, but for any new comers to EVH, I thought I’d share a few of the tools that have helped me along the way.
CT Surgery Physician Assistants are the workhorses for most CT Surgery programs across the nation. There are dwindling numbers of experienced CT surgery Physician Assistants with the skill-sets required to effectively manage the high acuity patients. General Surgery residents are leaving CT Surgery in droves to maintain their strict 80 hour work week. CT Surgery PAs are leaving the jobs they love to pursue a better life in a less demanding specialty. There exists a shortage of CT Surgeons, and the problem will likely worsen. Hospitals are asking for more than ever from their CT Surgery physician assistants, putting their PAs at risk of burnout.
Topics: Physician Assistant Burnout