Monday, December 31, 2012

Treatment of the Newborn with Fever

I'm highlighting some blog posts this week that I did for Erin MacPherson's Christian Mama's Guide last year. Some of you may not know but I am a real live pediatric ER RN. As always, these posts are meant to be educational and do not replace a doctor's visit if your child is ill.

Erin has a WICKED sense of humor and is releasing a series of books this spring so I hope you'll keep an eye out for them.

Question:  Is it really a bad idea to take a newborn out in public? What will really happen if he/she gets sick?

Jordyn Says:

I can remember when my youngest was born and was just a few days old when my in-laws came by to visit. My father-in-law was horribly ill with bronchitis, coughing and hacking at the doorway. I held the baby up for them to see from a distance and kindly asked them to go on their way. They could come back around when he was well.

Here’s the issue: An infant less than two months (some doctors will say three months) that presents with a fever of 100.4 or greater generally gets a septic work-up. The concern is that an infant’s immune system hasn’t quite revved up yet and it can become easily overwhelmed by infection. Therefore, we approach this age infant very cautiously to prevent this from happening.

A septic work-up entails gathering specimens from the most likely places that would become infected. This includes placing an IV to get blood for a blood culture and blood counts, doing a urine cath (placing a small plastic tube into the bladder) for urine and doing a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which is the fluid that bathes the brain.

Infants are generally admitted into the hospital for 24-48 hours at a minimum on IV antibiotics until their cultures are negative. If their cultures are positive, then they would stay longer to get a full course of antibiotics.

This is not always done but is your “worst case scenario” for ER management. There are some situations that may alter the physician’s medical approach. One may be that we can prove the infant has another source for the fever like an ear infection or RSV (in fall and winter). We generally look for these first. If another source cannot be found, then generally, these other tests are performed.

Unfortunately, a small percentage of infants do die from sepsis. This is why we are very cautious. 
As you can see, these are very invasive procedures and this is why I personally encourage minimal public contact when the infant is under two months.

If you choose to take your new baby in public, here are a few guidelines:

1. Use good hand washing. Before anyone touches the baby, they should wash their hands with soap and water. If water is unavailable, then use antiseptic hand gel.

2. If you develop a cold (runny nose, cough) wear a medical mask around the infant. These can be picked up at stores that have a pharmacy.

3. Keep sick siblings away from the newborn.

4. Encourage younger siblings to kiss the baby’s feet or the back of their head.

5. Immunize.

6. Well newborns need to stay out of the ER! A common scenario is for the whole family to show up with a sick older sibling and bring the new baby. This should only happen if that’s your only option. Otherwise, keep the newborn at home with a responsible adult. There isn’t a way to fully decontaminate the ER waiting room. It’s likely the baby will pick something up during the ER visit of the other sibling.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Up and Coming

Hello Redwood's Fans!

Are you ready for the New Year? Making any New Year's resolutions?

I am anxious for this year. I'll be releasing two books and sending out a new book proposal. Lots of work to be done.

What are some of your plans for the coming year?

This week, I'm highlighting some guest blogs I did over at Christian Mama's Guide for Erin MacPherson. Erin has a series of books releasing this spring that I'm excited for because she has a wicked sense of humor.

Here's a previous post she did for Redwood's.

For you this week:

Monday: ER management of the newborn with fever. 

Wednesday: Top three pediatric ER nursing pet peeves.

Friday: Management of infant crying.

Have a great New Year's Day!

And remember . . . responsible drinking people.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Fun: Most Unique 12 Days of Christmas

Hello Redwood's Fans!

I usually take a blogging break for two weeks around Christmas and just post light, fun stuff. We'll get back to the medical mayhem after the first of the year.

In the meantime, enjoy the videos and lighter posts and most of all--- have a Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Eight Questions

Today, I'm participating in Dale Eldon's "The Next Big Thing" blog hop. If you're an author and would like to participate-- leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I'll link to you here. Your post must be set for Jan 3, 2013.

It's simple: answer these questions about your current WIP.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Peril-- book #3 of the Bloodline Trilogy. It follows Proof and Poison, the first two books in the Bloodline Trilogy. Poison releases Feb 1, 2013.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I've been fascinated by the stories of transplant patients remembering things only their donor would know. Is it possible that memories can be transferred between individuals? As a medical thriller author, I like to take things in medicine that HAVE happened and then ask a question or pose an ethical dilemma. Peril will be a very controversial book.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Medical  Thriller

4. What's the synopsis of your book?

Three armed men take a pediatric ICU hostage in order to force a researcher to disclose why they are suffering horrific medical complications after they've had a neural graft placed to give them superior autobiographical memory.

5. Will our book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Kregel, October 2013. A good spooky read.

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About six months.

7. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Chromosome 6 by Robin Cook

A Heartbeat Away by Harry Kraus

8. What else about your book might pique a reader's interest?

If you LOVE tense suspense novels-- you will love this book. I like to bring readers along on a very scary ride but I also like to pose ethical questions. What do you think about life? When does it start? What differentiates us--- makes us special-- what gives us our humanness. So, along with scaring off your pants, I'd like people to consider some of these questions.

Dale-- thanks so much for allowing me to participate in your parade. It's been  A LOT of fun.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Fun: The Muppets Ringing of the Bells

Hello Redwood's Fans!

I usually take a blogging break for two weeks around Christmas and just post light, fun stuff. We'll get back to the medical mayhem after the first of the year.

In the meantime, enjoy the videos and lighter posts and most of all--- have a Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Hope everyone has had a chance to enjoy a fun filled Christmas day with friends and family.

Just a quick note to announce the winners of my Wishing post...

There were only three who fulfilled the qualifying instructions so each are getting a personalized copy of Proof!

Winners are:
1. Karen K.
2. Katy McKenna
3. Megan Parsons

I'll be contacting you over the next few days.

Congratulations and Merry Christmas!


Christmas Fun: Social Media Christmas

Hello Redwood's Fans!

I usually take a blogging break for two weeks around Christmas and just post light, fun stuff. We'll get back to the medical mayhem after the first of the year.

In the meantime, enjoy the videos and lighter posts and most of all--- have a Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Fun: Holdman Christmas Lights

 Hello Redwood's Fans!

I usually take a blogging break for two weeks around Christmas and just post light, fun stuff. We'll get back to the medical mayhem after the first of the year.

In the meantime, enjoy the videos and lighter posts and most of all--- have a Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Fun: AFV Videos

 Hello Redwood's Fans!

I usually take a blogging break for two weeks around Christmas and just post light, fun stuff. We'll get back to the medical mayhem after the first of the year.

In the meantime, enjoy the videos and lighter posts and most of all--- have a Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Fun: Sinbad!

 Hello Redwood's Fans!

I usually take a blogging break for two weeks around Christmas and just post light, fun stuff. We'll get back to the medical mayhem after the first of the year.

Sinbad is one of my all time favorite comedians. I hope you enjoy his humor too. 

In the meantime, enjoy the videos and lighter posts and most of all--- have a Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Fun: Ormie JUST wants a cookie!

 Hello Redwood's Fans!

I usually take a blogging break for two weeks around Christmas and just post light, fun stuff. We'll get back to the medical mayhem after the first of the year.

In the meantime, enjoy the videos and lighter posts and most of all--- have a Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 13, 2012


Over the next few days, I'm participating in the WordServe Water Cooler Christmas Blog Parade! The Water Cooler post will go live Dec 14th.

If you're not coming from the Water Cooler, I hope you'll stop by and take a look at all the posts and prizes being offered. There are LOTS!!

If this is your first time wandering to Redwood's Medical Edge-- it's a blog designed to help authors write medically accurate fiction. Generally, how to maim, injure and kill your FICTIONAL characters. I field writing related medical questions and blog on medical topics.

I am giving away a chance to win one of three personalized copies of Proof to three people drawn at random (must live in the USA) who leaves a comment on this post that ***includes your e-mail address*** by midnight Christmas Eve. Winner announced here Christmas Day.

Hmm... my writer's wish list.

Just one simple wish really...
Lunch with Dean Koontz-- to say thank you.

Last June, when Proof released, fellow medical author Candace Calvert posed me this question and I have been thinking about it ever since. If you were in Southern California and were lunching with Dean Koontz, what three questions would you ask him.

I nearly passed out just thinking about that scenario.

But more than that, I would like to thank him for writing such great stories. I can't confess to reading his entire body of works. I also don't claim to LOVE every one of his books but he is, by far, an author I have learned a lot from. An author I would like to write like. An author I love to learn from. When I'm stuck in my own writing I'll often crack open one of his books to get me going again.

Okay-- I'm going to amend my wish. Dean, please write another book on writing! Please, for me. Just. For. Me.

Then I thought, why stop at Dean? What writers/authors would you say "thank you" to and for what? Let me know in the comments section-- when you leave your e-mail (hint...hint).

Here's a short list from me. If I could have a Castle like poker game with all these folks . . . well . . . heaven!!

1. Dean Koontz: for being a master story teller.
2. James Scott Bell/ Donald Maass: for writing such great craft books. Really, check them out.
3. Julie Cantrell: for being the most down to earth NYT bestselling author I've ever met that I get to call friend. Oohhh, I did lunch with her!
4. Candace Calvert: for being a mentor to me.
5. Lynette Eason: for being the first person to ever endorse one of my books.
6. Robin Cook/Michael Palmer/Harry Kraus: for writing great medical thrillers.
7. Harlen Coban/Linwood Barclay/Karin Slaughter: for writing great suspense.
8. God: for writing the best book there ever was.

What would your list look like?

To all my readers-- and hopefully some new ones-- Merry Christmas!!

Jordyn Redwood

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Author Question: Car Accident

Amy D. Asks:

I am putting one of my characters in a pretty major car accident -- a rollover in which she lands on a broken window and ends up with a lacerated back full of broken glass, in addition to a broken leg, fractured ribs, etc. I need a scene to take place in the hospital where she is recovering. With those kinds of injuries, what treatments would she be under? More importantly, how exactly would she be laying in the bed? Obviously not on her back. But would she be on her side or stomach? Perhaps that depends on the other injuries she sustains... but the lacerated back is the biggest one I want her to have.

Jordyn Says:

The biggest issue here is that she will likely have to lie on her back for a while. Considering her mechanism of injury (MOI)—the big rollover accident. The EMS crew is going to be very concerned that she may have injured her neck or back and she will be put onto a spine board and C-collar. To alleviate the pressure on her back, they may then tilt the whole board to side but it's going to cause some pain to lay on that flat board until her x-rays are complete.

Care for lacerations: One, she'll need x-rays of her chest to look for the glass. She'd likely have this anyway for her MOI which could then reveal the rib fractures. If the lacerations are severe and extensive-- she may end up going to the OR so they can be cleaned and stitched up under general but they'd have to be REALLY bad. Otherwise, we irrigate them out with sterile saline. Stitch them up. Antibiotic ointment over top. Make sure she's up to date on tetanus. She would get a shot if she hadn't had any in five years. It's 10 years without injury.

Rib fractures are generally problematic because you don't want to take a deep breath because of the pain which can lead to pulmonary problems. Lung contusions can actually put you on a ventilator if they are extensive enough. If several ribs are broken in succession-- this is actually referred to as a flailed chest which can inhibit the patient's ability to breathe. So, I'd keep it simple with one or two rib fracture so the character mostly has to deal with the pain issue and not the lung issues.

Broken leg-- which bone is broken and how bad? This would determine treatment.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Author Question: Jack and Jill

Maisie asks:

My 16 year old female main character is going to jump down from something (akin to jumping from a tree branch), the ground below is pitted and sloped though, and I need her to get injured. In my mind, it would be her ankle or her wrist (from catching herself) with some minor lacerations to her face. I've never broken anything to know how it feels. I want the medical scene that follows to be realistic, her Mom will meet her at the hospital, it's late at night.

What would be the steps, the healing process, pain management, any specialists, and healing time. I want her to be injured, but I don't want her to be crippled for the entire summer (length of the novel). I want to know how the hospital scene and future doctor appointments will go, what they'll look for, and how this is going to encumber her in her regular life

Jordyn says:

The thing to know about ankles is that they rarely fracture. 95% of the time, they are sprained. For a sprained ankle, an air splint (crutches if the patient can't bear weight) for 7-10 days and then the patient should work themselves out of the splint at that point. If still painful-- they should follow-up with their regular doctor or orthopedic doctor at that time.
It's more likely, with your scenario of falling down a hill, for a simple break to the lower forearm.

Treatment in the ER will be x-ray to evaluate for fracture, pain medication (usually Ibuprofen suffices). These would be the same initial treatments for an ankle injury as well. If fractured, the patient is placed in a splint and NOT a cast.

Pt will follow-up with ortho in 7-10 days for cast placement. Cast is on for 4-6 weeks. There shouldn't be any permanent damage.

Lacerations: Generally a topical numbing agent is applied. This sets in place for 20-30 minutes. Or, the patient is directly injected with Lidocaine. Wound is irrigated with normal saline. Stitched up. Antibiotic ointment over the stitches. Wound should be cleansed twice daily with mild soap and water then Neosporin or equivalent over top. Stitches to the face are usually removed in 5-7 days. Tetanus shot if the patient hasn't had one in the last five years.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Up and Coming

Hello Redwood's Fans!

Are we getting into the Christmas Spirit!!

I know I WILL be . . . right after I'm done with Peril (book #3!) edits. One. More. Week.

Let me know what Christmas fun you are having so I can live vicariously through you and maybe you could do some Christmas shopping for me . . . not for me . . . from me for other people.

For you this week.

Monday: Author Question-- Jill fell out of a tree.

Wednesday: Author Question: Car Accident.

Friday: Wishing . . .I'll be participating in the WordServe Water Cooler Christmas parade and giving away one copy of Proof. Check back here Friday for details.

Have a great week!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Author Question: What is a Good Condition for my Character?

Teena asks:

I want my main character to have a medical condition his girlfriend is unaware of. It needs to incapacitate him and put him in a bit more jeopardy when he doesn't get his meds. I also want him to have a concussion so he black outs once or twice while he's with the bad guy. But he also needs to escape.

A little earlier in the book I want him to exhibit some symptoms to his girlfriend but without revealing his condition...maybe watching what he eats, and in another scene exhibiting dizziness and weakness to a friend but claiming he's just out of shape. Then, a little later, while he is by himself working on his novel, maybe some shaking where he takes pills and readers don't know why. They may just think he's an addict.

He is not obese and is in his early thirties. Which is counter to the profile for most type 2 diabetics I think.

Any suggestions?

Jordyn Says:

Thanks for sending me your question.

I don't think Type II diabetes is a good option considering his age and good health status.

Here are a few posts I did specifically on diabetes:


Off the top of my head-- I might consider some type of cardiomyopathy. Where he needed digoxin and lasix as maintenance meds. If he came off those-- he could definitely be symptomatic. A lot of the criteria you want would fit this type of condition.

1. What is cardiomyopathy:

2. Cardiomyopathy:

3. Cardiomyopathy: Treatment and Drugs (and lots of other info):

Read through these resources and see if they strike a chord.

Teena Says:

Thanks so much for the suggestions. I think maybe the hypertrophic
cardiomyopathy is the way to go!

Teena Stewart is a published author, artist, and ministry leader. She is currently working on a sequel to her first completed romantic suspense novel. Recent published books include Mothers andDaughters: Mending a Strained Relationship and The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father. For more info visit and

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

EMTALA and the Writer

What is EMTALA and why should I, as an author (and maybe a healthcare consumer), care about it? EMTALA, like HIPAA, sounds like a foreign language but has large ramifications for healthcare providers. Here's a series I did on HIPAA and how it is often dealt with poorly in fiction writing.


EMTALA stands for the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. It was passed in 1986 as part of the Omnibus legislation and is sometimes referred to as COBRA. COBRA is the legislation that dictates how you're covered by medical insurance when you change jobs.

The reason behind EMTALA was to prevent patients (those covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or without insurance) from being "dumped" to other institutions because of poor reimbursement or no reimbursement on part of the patient.

When refusing care (problem #1), the patients condition can deteriorate while they're trying to get to another hospital. This is overall, of course, bad.

This only applies to those hospitals that receive Medicare and/or Medicaid funding which is virtually all US hospitals. If a hospital is found to have an EMTALA violation-- heavy fines can be imposed and hospitals can lose their government funding. If that were to happen, the hospital would likely have to close its doors.

Dr. Tanya Goodwin covered how this relates to a patient in active labor in this post.

I thought I'd talk a little about how it relates to the emergency department.

Any patient that presents to the ER must be given a "medical screening exam". This will vary from state to state on who can provide these exams. Some may require a physician while others may be okay having an RN complete it. This is dictated by that state's scope of practice. Here are a few previous posts that deal with scope of practice issues:


If the patient does not have an emergency, the hospital can "screen" that patient out to another facility, urgent care, or their doctor's office to be seen later.

Let's look at a real life example. I work in a pediatric ER. We generally treat patients up to age 21. After that-- they need to transition to adult care.

So, let's say I'm in triage and a 65 y/o male presents to the ER for treatment of an uninfected ingrown toe nail. Based on our treatment guidelines-- being a pediatric facility-- the on-duty physician can either treat or "medically screen" the patient out because though an ingrown toe nail may be painful-- it is not a medical emergency.

Now, can you do this in your manuscript? A physician is fed up with a patient and kicks him out of the ER. Is that an EMTALA violation? Did he provide an exam? Was the patient having an emergency?

As a result of this law-- generally a patient who collapses (maybe a patient suffering a gun shot wound is "dropped off" at the hospital) on hospital property needs to be given care. There have been instances of this on the news where someone collapsed and based on their position in relation to hospital property-- care was or was not provided. EMTALA dictates the hospital's response in these circumstances.

For more on EMTALA-- you can read here.

Have you ever dealt with an EMTALA issue in your manuscript?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sweating Bullets: A Story of Ann Boleyn 4/4

I am so honored to have JoAnn Spears back at Redwood's Medical Edge. Her posts about the ailments of long lost monarchs are hugely popular and entertaining as well.

This four part Monday series focuses on Ann Boleyn and the mysterious sweating sickness that had a 70% mortality rate! Here are Part I,  Part II and Part III.

Welcome back, JoAnn!

Part IV:  The cold hard facts.
Influenza has been around since at least Hippocrates’ time.  It is thought of today mostly as a nuisance that can be sanitized or vaccinated away.  This testifies to a short collective memory when the story of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 is considered. 

Within 25 weeks of the beginning of the Spanish Flu pandemic, an estimated 25 million people died worldwide.  When the pandemic finally ended in 1920, as many as 50 million people had died.  In an era when supportive care for influenza symptoms such as fever was better understood than it was in Tudor times, the mortality rate for Spanish Flu was still around 10%.

Ann Boleyn
It doesn’t take much math to figure out that as many as 500 million people developed Spanish Flu between 1918 and 1920.  It was an era when people knew a lot more about disease transmission than they did when Anne Boleyn retreated to Hever.  As a result, many a large public gathering was cancelled for preventive purposes during the Spanish Flu pandemic, and people around the world wore surgical-type face masks when in public.  These efforts were unavailing against the spread of the infection; Spanish Flu was as mysterious and maddening as Anne Boleyn herself.

Many believe nowadays that Spanish Flu was an avian virus, akin to the modern H1N1 or bird flu virus which is originates in, and is spread by, infected poultry.

Anne Boleyn is unlikely to have personally prepared poultry for consumption.  She did, however, feast in the Tudor court where feathered fare ranging from swallows to game birds to swans were prepared by the help and consumed by ‘the quality’ with gusto.  The Tudor court was also a home to falcons which were used by both men and women for hunting for sport.  Anne Boleyn’s family crest actually features a falcon.  Parrots and parakeets, novelty birds from the New World, were also present at the Tudor court as pets.  Henry VIII himself was said to have an African Grey Parrot which could mimic calls to boatsmen on the Thames, leading more than one of them on a fool’s errand.  Another tale says that when the parrot fell into the Thames on one occasion, it was recognized and rescued only because it started to scream ‘boat!’ as it fell into the river.

The Sweat and the Spanish Flu do not have only a surprising causation in common.   Both claimed, for the most part, a surprising set of victims.  

The Sweat did not prey on vulnerable folk such as the weak, the very young, and the very old.  According to Caius, "They which had this sweat sore with peril of death were either men of wealth, ease or welfare, or of the poorer sort, such as were idle persons, good ale drinkers and taverne haunters."  Contemporary sources also tell us that men were disproportionately affected; “mortalitie fell chieflie or rather upon men, and those of the best age as between thirtie and fortie years. Few women, nor children, nor old men died thereof".

The Spanish Flu likewise claimed the least likely as its victims, with many heretofore healthy young adults succumbing.  The Spanish Flu pandemic started, in fact, in an army base in Kansas, claiming the lives of robust young World War I soldiers while their physicians looked on, helpless. It is thought today that this was due to a phenomenon known as cytokine storm, a scenario in which a healthy immune system is actually a liability. 

If a virus such as bird flu enters the body through inhalation, the infection will center in the lungs.  It is normal for the body to fight infection in the lungs with inflammatory responses that are familiar:   increased circulation to the area, mucus production, coughing, fever to ‘burn out’ the infection, etc. In a cytokine storm, too much of all of these symptoms creates as much of a problem, if not more of a problem, than the infectious agent itself.  Soldiers with Spanish Flu were drowned by copious blood and fluids produced by their own lungs, possibly as a result of this phenomenon.  Perhaps a similar phenomenon caused the profuse, and often deadly, heat and perspiration of Tudor-era Sweat sufferers.

The Sweat, and the Spanish Flu, were both maddening, mysterious forces, capable of bringing about a strong man’s downfall, and yet as elusive and as hard to contain as a bird in flight.  The association with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, surely, is fitting.
JoAnn Spears is a registered nurse with Master’s Degrees in Nursing and Public Administration. Her first novel, Six of One, JoAnn brings a nurse’s gallows sense of humor to an unlikely place: the story of the six wives of Henry VIII. Six of One was begun in JoAnn’s native New Jersey. It was wrapped up in the Smoky Mountains of Northeast Tennessee, where she is pursuing a second career as a writer. She has, however, obtained a Tennessee nursing license because a) you never stop being a nurse and b) her son Bill says “don’t quit your day job”.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Up and Coming

Hello Redwood's Fans!

So... anyone brave Black Friday shopping? I am not a fan of crazy crowds plus I worked in the ER most of the holiday so no trampling other people for a cheap TV was in the plans--- or rescuing people from getting trampled upon.

X-mas Eve Tree
Nevertheless, I am getting into the Christmas spirit. Decorations are up-- three trees this year! You know my husband is just thrilled with that and I wonder what my future son-in-laws will think when my girls grow up and insist on multiple trees.

What are your Christmas traditions?

One of ours is that we have a small, "Christmas Eve" tree. We generally open gifts Christmas morning but I got tired of the children begging to open gifts ALL day Christmas Eve so I got a smaller, fake tree to decorate and there are always two smaller presents there for them: Christmas PJ's and an ornament.

How's the decorating going for you?

For you this week:

Monday: JoAnn Spears concludes her series on Ann Boleyn and the mysterious sweating sickness. Truly a fascinating series.

Wednesday: EMTALA and the writer. EM...? What? Tune in to find out.

Friday: Author Question: I need a medical condition for my character!

Happy Christmas Tree Decorating.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Author Question: Post-Mortem Injuries

Giacomo asks: I'm writing a scene where the killer cuts off the victims' lips while they are alive. how would the M.E. know if the vic was alive or not by looking at the corpse?
Jordyn says:
Sometimes, the best thing for me to do is offer an author several resources to delve through to find the answer they're looking for. Here's the list of resources I sent to Giacomo:
1. What Crime Scene Insects Reveal About the Victim's Wounds:
2. Antemortem vs. Postmortem Injuries. Which means injuries before and after death.
3. Twenty-seven differences between antemortem and postmortem wounds:
4. Medico-legal significance of a bruise:

Does anyone else have any resources that might help with Giacomo's question?***********************************************************************Giacomo grew up in a large Italian family in the Northeast. No one had money, so for entertainment he and his family played board games and told stories. He loved the city—the noise, the people—but it was the storytelling most of all that stuck with him. Now Giacomo and his wife live in Texas, where they run an animal sanctuary with 41 loving "friends." Sometimes he misses the early days, but not much. Now he enjoys the solitude and the noise of the animals.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting Sued: A Doctor's Experience

It was a cold winter day in 2009 when my life changed forever; however, it would be months before I figured that out.  On that fateful day, a drug-addicted surgical scrub tech assigned to my operating room allegedly stole syringes of fentanyl, a potent intravenous narcotic, from my anesthesia cart.  According to news reports, investigative summaries, and the scrub tech’s confession, once she took the syringes, she used them on herself.

It’s hard to fathom, but that’s not even the really sick and twisted part to this tale.  The scrub tech had hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that attacks and, sometimes, destroys the liver.  Based on her own testimony, she knew she was positive for the virus.

Yet, after supposedly injecting herself with a drug intended for a vulnerable and innocent patient, she then allegedly chose to refill the syringe with saline.  Theoretically, the syringe was contaminated with her infected blood.

She then allegedly replaced the syringe in my cart.  If these allegations are true, and there is no way of knowing, there was no way I could have known that she had tampered with my drugs.  The syringes purportedly would have been in the same place where I left them, and both fentanyl and saline look identical.  So, on that unfortunate day, it is alleged that I injected a mixture of saline and hepatitis C into my patient’s bloodstream, instead of a painkiller. 

The following summer, the story made local and national headlines.  At least 5,000 patients were at risk for having been exposed to the virus.  Every anesthesiologist in my group secretly prayed that they weren’t involved.  The hospital went into extreme damage-control mode.  Tight restrictions and policies regarding the handling and securing of narcotics were strictly enforced.  Panicked patients were tested en masse for the potentially lethal virus.

A few months later, I received notice that I was being sued, along with the hospital.  Receiving the summons and the two-year ordeal that followed was, by far, the most painful, mortifying, demoralizing, and caustic event of my life.  Of course I grieved for the patient, but I had to do so in silence because any discussion of the event was forbidden, on the advice of my attorneys.  Never before would I have imagined the depths of shame, guilt, and self-doubt that I was capable of inflicting upon myself.

As the lawsuit evolved, the lawyers and the patient grew nastier and greedier.  My initial feelings of compassion and empathy dissolved into rage and betrayal.  I suffered through an eight-hour deposition with hostile attorneys where I was belittled, ridiculed, verbally abused, and intimidated.   Months later, I was emotionally beaten down, and I made the painful decision to settle.

At that point, it was no longer about right vs. wrong.

I just wanted the nightmare to end.  It was at that time, in the middle of settlement negotiations, that I was featured on the local television news station, only to be followed a week later by a front-page headline in the local paper.  Statements I made during my deposition were taken out of context.  The public commenters on the stories cried for my crucifixion.  I will never know this for certain, but the timing of the stories and their prejudicial slant reeked of a couple of reporters on the take.  I was made to look like a cold, heartless, reckless villain, whose patient was the innocent victim of my blatant negligence. 

I never got my day in court or the opportunity to explain that I’m not a monster.  I wish I could have explained that, before this happened I was a caring, compassionate, skilled, and highly qualified physician.  The manner in which I secured and stored my narcotics was identical to the manner in which most of my colleagues handled theirs.  We were all taught during residency that the operating room was a secure environment.  Furthermore, we were taught to have our drugs drawn up in advance of our cases, so as to be able to handle emergent and unforeseen events more expeditiously.

Now I am a shadow of my former self.  I’m bitter, defensive, cynical, and wounded.  I want to stress that in no way is this article intended to take away from the fact that a patient was hurt.  I was as much of a victim of the scrub tech’s crime as was my patient.  We just endured different kinds of injuries.  Mine were of the heart and soul and will never heal.

Note: I would greatly appreciate any feedback.  Also, if you have any questions or would like to schedule an interview regarding this or any other facet of life in the operating room, please contact me by email @ or visit my website@


Kate O’Reilley, M.D. is a practicing anesthesiologist in the Rocky Mountain region. In addition to being a physician, she has also written two books, both of which are medical thrillers. She plans on releasing her first book, “It’s Nothing Personal” in the near future. When not writing, blogging or passing gas, Kate spends her time with her daughter and husband. Together, they enjoy their trips to Hawaii and staying active. Please visit her at her website, , and her blog

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sweating Bullets: A Story of Ann Boleyn 3/4

I am so honored to have JoAnn Spears back at Redwood's Medical Edge. Her posts about the ailments of long lost monarchs are hugely popular and entertaining as well.

This four part Monday series focuses on Ann Boleyn and the mysterious sweating sickness that had a 70% mortality rate! Here are Part I and Part II.

Welcome back, JoAnn!

Part III:  The cold hard facts.

In the Latin that united the cosmopolitan Renaissance medical world, the Sweating Sickness was called ‘sudor anglicus’, or The English Sweat.  Some Brits thought it an imported commodity, courtesy of the mercenaries from continental Europe who helped Henry VII, the first Tudor king, to win his throne.  In the sickness’ last rampage, it spread eastward through northern Europe as far as Russia, but largely spared Scotland, Ireland, and the more southern portions of Europe.

Much of Europe thought England in Tudor times a bit behind when it came to cleanliness and hygiene practices.  Erasmus described floors “covered with rushes, occasionally renewed, but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for twenty years, harbouring expectoration, vomiting, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish, and other abominations not fit to be mentioned. Whenever the weather changes a vapour is exhaled, which I consider very detrimental to health.” The grasses and straw which comprised rushes, and which were also used to fill mattresses and cushions, were often infested with critters such as lice and bedbugs.  This perception played a large part in two of modern sciences’ earliest hypotheses about causes of The Sweat:  potties and pests.

Early epidemiologists associated The Sweat with Typhoid Fever.  Salmonella typhi spreads through contaminated food or water by what is known as the fecal-oral route and is strongly associated with poor sanitation and waste disposal.  This ailment probably killed such prominent Brits as Prince Albert, as well as several of the literary Brontes.  Typhoid fever has, however, a marked gastroenterological component.  Such symptoms are largely absent, or not emphasized, in contemporary descriptions of The Sweat.

Relapsing Fever, caused by louse-borne Borrelia recurrentis, is another Sweat contender.  It originated in the warmer parts of the world, including parts of Africa and South and Central America.  In the early Renaissance era, European exploration of these areas was just beginning. The plants, animals, and people that Europe’s explorers brought back home to the Old World could have been inadvertent Borrelia vectors.  Most of these early explorations, however, originated out of, and returned to, Southern European countries which were largely, unlike England, Sweat-spared.
Relapsing and Typhoid Fevers are caused by bacteria.

Bacteria were understood long before the discovery of viruses, which occurred around the turn of the 20th century.  Still more advanced 21st century knowledge about microbes provides a most convincing possibility for categorizing The Sweat:  influenza.

We'll discuss the possibility of Sweating Sickness being viral in nature next post.
JoAnn Spears is a registered nurse with Master’s Degrees in Nursing and Public Administration. Her first novel, Six of One, JoAnn brings a nurse’s gallows sense of humor to an unlikely place: the story of the six wives of Henry VIII. Six of One was begun in JoAnn’s native New Jersey. It was wrapped up in the Smoky Mountains of Northeast Tennessee, where she is pursuing a second career as a writer. She has, however, obtained a Tennessee nursing license because a) you never stop being a nurse and b) her son Bill says “don’t quit your day job”.