Monday, April 8, 2024

Inside Job

A long time ago, when I was first starting out, I worked at a hospital that had only one MRI-compatible ventilator.

For my non-medical readers, a ventilator is the "breathing machine" that keeps you alive when your body needs a break, during surgery, etc.  Once you're better we take you off it. It's a very complicated gadget, with a fair amount of ferrous metal.

As a result, a standard ventilator can't go in an MRI. Since patients on one sometimes need an MRI (usually once a pesky neurologist gets involved) there are MRI-safe ventilators. These are stripped down machines, mostly plastic and non-ferrous metal. They're less durable than a regular ventilator and don't have all the features, but they're fine for an hour or so that a patient needs it while in the MRI machine.

Anyway, back at Small Hospital, one day the MRI-safe ventilator was missing. This was a real problem, because now we couldn't do MRI's on ICU patients who needed them. We were able to temporarily get an extra from a larger hospital across town, but still needed ours back. They ain't cheap.

Security searched, literally, every square inch of Small Hospital. The kitchens, the bathrooms, every patient room, the storage areas... it wasn't there. Small Hospital didn't have the array of video monitoring they do now, so looking for someone leaving with it wasn't possible.

One early morning during rounds I was in ICU, chatting about it with some of the nurses when one of them said, half-joking, "maybe it's on Ebay."

Since I was on the computer looking up labs, I switched over to Ebay... and there it was. A used MRI-compatible ventilator, same model, which had been up for sale since one day after it had gone missing. The seller's name was an easily-recognizable variant on the name of a guy who worked as a hospital radiology transporter.

The ventilator was back a few day later.

The transporter spent some time as a guest of the state, in spite of his clever defense that he'd seen it standing next to a dumpster at his apartment complex several miles from the hospital and had just kept it as a decoration because he didn't know what it was but it looked cool.

The machine was at the hospital for several more years before it was replaced by a newer model. For the rest of its service the nurses kept a sign on it that said "NOT FOR DECORATION."


Craig Newmark said...

People are always asking me why they should use my website to sell stuff instead of eBay. I think the results speak for themselves.

Me said...

Man! People, right?

Packer said...

Very late 2019 early 2020 call comes in from daughter, she is young a few years into her ICU RN thing, she tell us that they believe the shit is about to hit the fan and no one knows what to expect, she just wants to touch home because who knows. She then tells us they are Re using PPE, because the emergency pallet loads of mask, gloves and gowns had been stolen off the loading dock of the hospital well they did what they had to do, worked on with lack of protective equipment for weeks.

Last May we got to see her and a few of her colleagues cross the stage to receive her Masters and Nurse Practitioner degree and we got to listen to the Dean speak of the very special nature of the group that has worked , studied and added clinical hours in the midst of the crisis. The Dean , basically said Man ! people , right stuff, know it wear it strut it .

There are angels who walk among us, look for the, find them lest we become jaded.

Frankie Goes to Bala Cynwyd said...

So, since the guy didn't know what it was, he listed it on eBay as a "decoration," and you found it by typing "decoration" into the search bar?

Packer said...

Frankie, did you not get what I said about becoming jaded?

Anonymous said...

Why didn’t you just use a regular ventilator, kept outside the MRI room and some very long tubing? That what we did back in the day I was a trainee ICU doc and the hospital couldn’t/wouldn’t buy a MRI compatible ventilator.

Anonymous said...

Oh my.

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