|Dangerous flaws||May. 19, 2007|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|Written by: DOCTOR GIFFORD-JONES|
|Holes in our health care system are putting us at risk|
Several weeks ago, I wrote about needless, dangerous, delays due to flaws in our health care system that resulted in surgery after an appendix had ruptured. Since then I've received numerous letters from readers reporting similar happenings. This unbelievable story is a tribute to small town doctors, the backbone of our profession, who receive so little attention. How one helped to save the life of a desperately ill patient against great odds.
Charlie Godden, a 60-year-old dairy farmer from Campbellford suffered third degree burns to one third of his body, a life-threatening condition.
A transport helicopter landed at 3:30 p.m. in Campbellford but by 4:00 p.m. the hospital could still not find an available bed so the crew said they had to leave. Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto had five burn units, but no staff to service them so Dr. Gibson turned to the U.S. for help.
At 4:05 p.m. a bed was found in Rochester, N.Y. But Dr. Gibson reports that at this point the pilots left anyway saying it was their turn to go off duty! (Can you imagine doctors going off duty leaving a patient fighting for his life?)
Air Ambulance agreed to find another crew. But it would not happen until after 7 p.m. when the shift changed. At 7 p.m. they called back, complaining of weather problems, and that instead a fixed wing aircraft would meet the patient in Trenton. (Gibson says it was a clear night). But the plane would not have paramedics on board or ventilating equipment and Campbellford would have to supply them.
Dr. Gibson was the only medical person available for the transfer.
The plane was to land at Trenton at 9:30 p.m. so patient and doctor arrived at that time. They waited on the tarmac another hour before the plane landed and then took off for Rochester.
During all this time Dr. Gibson continued to keep his patient alive by hand ventilation, a demanding physical task, as Godden could not breath on his own.
Unbelievably, OHIP insisted that Godden be returned to Canada for treatment! Doctors at Strong Memorial Hospital refused to move him until his condition had stabilized. Moreover, they wanted to start skin grafts immediately as the sooner this is done the greater the chance of saving body systems from irreparable damage.
For three days a debate ensued about who would do the skin grafts. Economics eventually won. Godden was re-scheduled to fly to a burn unit at Sunnybrook Hospital by a second helicopter. It was soon found to be too large to land at Sunnybrook so another delay followed until a smaller one could be located.
Skin grafts were finally applied in Toronto four days after the Campbellford accident, rather than the normal few hours. Charlie Godden is still in Sunnybrook Hospital, only able to communicate by blinking his eyes to a "Yes" or "No".
As for Dr. Gibson, he deserves a medal.
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