I went to the ER for abdominal pain NOv. 18, 2019. CT negative I returned to ER on 11/21 and 11/22 same symptoms. CT showed no bowel wall thickening, however could not visualize the fat stranding due to increasing fluid in abdomen. US showed fluid around the spleen. I was already confused when admitted to the hospital. I was refusing the IV antibiotics, I thought it was causing the bloating and fullness and vomiting. Physician dismissed it as irritable bowel without examining me- stated my concerns were subjective. I was unable to understand.
I went home for 4 days which I do not remember. Returned on 12/1/2019 screaming in pain. The computer sepsis screen was severe risk for sepsis. But due to the previous CT scans and irritable bowel diagnosis, no CT was done. I begged for a nasogastric tube to drain my stomach, that was not done for 16 hours – there was a liter of bile in my stomach. Still another 24 hours before the CT was done, another 14 hours before the results were read 0750 Dec. 4th.
In the meantime I developed atrial fibrillation- a serious cardiac rhythm on Dec. 3rd, a bad sign. I did not go to surgery until the 5th of December. No cardiology consult. No infectious disease consult. The day after surgery I stopped breathing and my blood pressure dropped. I went to ICU. When I finally became aware again, I had a colostomy, my bowel was diverted to a bag. I was blown up like a water balloon from the resuscitation full of fluids. I lost all my muscle from malnourishment. I had a pulmonary embolus. I spent 20days in the hospital, another 8 days in acute rehab,
When I got home I had a chair in the shower. I felt if I couldn’t get the colostomy reversed I didn’t want to wake up from surgery. My hair fell out. My skin peeled. I was so depressed, and looked like a survivor of a prison camp. I blamed myself for refusing the antibiotics on the first admission- it took months to realize I was confused. I was denied the option of having my diverticulitis treated by IV antibiotics or laparoscopic drainage of the abscesses by the delayed effort to find the cause of my pain and infection. My mother and I had even talked to the charge nurse on the 3rd of December asking for more help.
In April, in the middle of COVID, I had to have the colostomy reversed, it was closing. I had another round of physical therapy due to back pain, so I could stand up straight again. I am nearly back to normal but. I still have emotional issues. Everyday my short hair or my scar tissue irritation reminds me of what happened. It could have been prevented if only someone had addressed the positive sepsis screen. I have been trying to contact everyone who can make a change. The charge nurse from the intermediate care floor was receptive. Everyone else I’ve tried to contact has not responded.
At this time I have escalated to contacting government entities to demand they make sepsis protocols a standard of practice measure. Joint Commissions is aware of the statistics and has the materials.
What really makes me upset is that as a registered nurse for 30 years I know how to recognize sepsis and all you need to do is get infectious diseases on the case pronto to get your patient the best outcome. I know that abdominal pain that worsens with movement is a sign of peritonitis. Assessment skills have been lost to over-reliance on electronic charting and tests. The history is copy/pasted from the ER doc and inaccuracies result. I can provide before and after photos but I have to text them from my phone- they are not on my I-Pad. Thank you for listening.