By Leana Wen for NPR. My 14-year-old patient grabbed my hand and told me that he was going to die.
Just seconds before, the nurse had wheeled him into the resuscitation room. His blood pressure and heart rate were more than twice the normal levels. He was pale, clammy and gasping for breath.
The nurses and doctors with me in the ER worked to stabilize him. We put an oxygen mask on his face. We inserted two IVs and began pumping fluids into his body. When his oxygen level dropped, we inserted a breathing tube.
In the meantime, we observed that there was no sign of trauma or active infection. The electrocardiogram showed that this wasn’t a heart attack. His blood tests were unrevealing.