Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Money at work

A few weeks ago Mr. Tachy called my office in a panic. He was at the gym, on one of those machines that monitored his pulse. At one point it said his heart rate was 210.

He panicked, and got off it. He felt like his heart was pounding. He was terrified.

He called my office (NO! I have no idea why he called his neurologist!). Annie sent him to ER. Of course, he didn't go. He drove to his internist instead.

His internist did an EKG, which was fine by that point, and some labs. All fine. So he sent him to a cardiologist.

The cardiologist did all kinds of expensive stuff, and couldn't find anything. So she referred him to a cardiac electrophysiologist. They did more expensive testing of the heart's circuitry, again without any answers.

So after several weeks, 3 doctors, lots of tests, and a crapload of money we knew what he DIDN'T have, but still had no idea why his heart had done that.

Yesterday he came to see me for the first time since this all happened. I asked him if he'd gone back to the gym yet.

"Yeah, I started last week. Guess what? It turned out the machine was broken. It read a pulse of 210 on everything, even when nothing was connected to it."

25 comments:

EPRN said...

Did he have an EP study? If so, that's insanely wasteful...especially after a single isolated episode of tachycardia, while exercising, recorded by a piece of gym equipment. A 30 day event monitor would be relatively cheap, noninvasive and they are usually very revealing. The cardiologists involved should be embarrassed for doing this, especially the EP guy! I'm glad I work for reasonable people!

Grumpy, M.D. said...

All were likely afraid of being sued if they didn't work him up, and then he turned out to have something. Defensive medicine can be insane.

Anonymous said...

Big surprise! Crummy technology and stupidity team up once again.

thatsit said...

Did someone teach him how to take his own pulse? That was one of the first things the lovely people at my first gym did. Thank you Coast Guard.

Anonymous said...

wait, his insurance approved ALL the expensive tests?

Packer said...

Which one of the medical brain trust told him he needed to get some exercise.

Sorry, that was too snarky. One of my doctors, a woman knowing I ride a couple of thosand miles per year on bike actually felt up my legs--to compare them to hers--she also rides. Then she said I was getting enough exercise.

Watercolor said...

ahahahaaaa! sigh. Never trust the gym machines. Doesn't everyone know that???

Anonymous said...

Wait..wait..my Mom could've used that EKG when her insurance denied her..., and she ended up stroking out; a little limp when she uses the walker, drops the phone occasionally, her jaw droops and she slurs and drools, and but hey, it's okay, she's been around for 82years... she's had her chance at the good life, graduating high school early and Plymouth Normal College. She taught school, served in the Air Force, finished her graduate degree at university, raised eight children. Only that, but that's the breaks.

Mr Tachy is still young and potentially contributing to Social Security.

At least some program in the healthcare arena is benefiting those active taxpayers for the general good of the masses.

Mr Mobius said...

First thing to do if any obs are unexpectedly abnormal - check the machine is working.

Best thing taught in Anaesthetics placement.

I almost expected the answer to the riddle to be 'his HR was 210 because he was unfit and had tried to run for a mile on treadmill...'

Cthulhu Sashimi said...

The machine wasn't broken. It was part of the new "self esteem-boosting" line of cardio equipment.

JW said...

The exact same thing happened to me the other day when I was at the gym; I was on an elliptical and my HR kept jumping between 135 and 211. I was just glad that machine didn't start beeping at me trying to throw me down.

Kat's Kats said...

::head:laptop:repeat:: I wonder how long it took the gym to find the error and if Mr. Tachy will sue them for his medical costs.

subjectl - it's all about how you feel... no really!

Just Me said...

oh dear dear dear dear. On the upside tho dr grumpy im now seeing artisan everywhere i go thanks :P

Not House said...

As one of my preceptors told me: if you're exercising and you're NOT tachycardic, I'm very worried about you.

Kim said...

That stuff has happened to me and I always assume the machine is broken. If something like that ever happens and the machine is correct I will probably die because I won't believe it.

The Mother said...

Technology in action!

cliffintokyo said...

Rage against the machine....stop taking over my LIFE!
I will NEVER buy an auto-drive car, an i-phone that tells me when to get out of bed, or a PC that says diet coke is good for me!

ER MUrse said...

One of those artisinal heart rate monitors, no doubt.

Jess said...

It's a good thing he didn't step onto a malfunctioning digital scale.

Anonymous said...

As I am for-EVER telling my student nurses; "Read the patient, not the monitor!!!!"

Anonymous said...

Arghhh! Our rotten, broken medical system. Some can't get care, and then others get too much.

PA Seen It said...

Ah, the cost of medical care. reminds me of professional gentleman who was seen as urgent work in over my lunch break (always theoretical) more than a few years ago....after syncopal event and $24000.00 ER eval showing...nothing. Had h/o CAD, so the "find it' mentality was winning...until I did recheck on the history to find he was making time in hot shower after workout with Rosey....and well. was soo embarassed could not share the details with his wife, or the male ER doc .... figured his honesty with me saved another 15 grand...

pharmacy chick said...

omg, he never thought he might actually check his own pulse????? with his finger...and a timex watch.

Anonymous said...

This story is a metaphor for the US health insurance/medical system ie. "broken"

medschoolodyssey said...

Saw that coming.

 
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