Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Changing the World, or at least a Hospital

Number 1 Son has very bad allergies (a gift from me). They started to get bad yesterday, so Milady took him to our new pediatrician. There, we saw a friend: the resident from ICU who monitored us for Dr. Werner (the head of the Pediatric ICU at UK). She stayed most of the nights we were in PICU, and helped keep a watch on things for us (and on us). She has now cycled out and is spending residency time with our pediatrician.

She was telling us how that Dr. Iocono (the surgeon who took over my son's case) took his case and used it to change the way pediatric empyemas are handled at UK. Instead of using a gradual process of chest tubes and patience, they are going to use the VATS procedure* very quickly after the detection of an empyema to clean out the pus and existing dead tissue. If they'd done the VATS the first week Number 1 Son was in the hospital, the lung would still have been damaged, and they probably still would have had to remove his middle and lower lobes, but he'd have been out of the hospital in 10-14 days instead of the almost 4 weeks he was in. After several months of work, Dr. Iocono finally got everyone to agree to change the protocols to allow the immediate surgery.

Number 1 Son got nervous over hearing that. I think he got disturbed at the concept that his case was so different than others that it could move an entire hospital. Once I figured that was the problem last night (and when Number 1 Son turns down a cheeseburger, there is a problem ;) ), I reminded him that Dr. Iocono has had many other cases, and that his was just the "final straw", the perfect case to illustrate his point. Then Milady and I both told him that the Lord may well have used a big, strong fellow like him to help them change their protocol, so that some sicker child doesn't have to die because of a "wait and see" policy. He liked to hear that.

The VATS procedure is an arthoscopic surgery where the surgeon operates using a camera sent down the throat, and a knife in a tube inserted in an incision in the side. It's a lot easier on the surgeon and the patient than cutting open the side.

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