Great catches

Spotting serious symptoms

Each month, the UF Health Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety recognizes staff members who have made a “Great Catch” to prevent medical errors.

By Morgan Sherburne

Quality Grand RoundsWhen the victim of a car accident came into the UF Health Shands Hospital emergency room, the patient’s symptoms did not seem serious enough to warrant a Level 1 trauma alert — an alert given to critically ill patients when they arrive.

But when Mark Hotchkiss, D.O., an intern in the College of Medicine department of anesthesiology, assessed the patient, he noticed symptoms of much more serious problems.

“She was requiring more and more oxygen, and had a tender belly,” Hotchkiss said. “Those two things are not good for someone who had been in a car accident. Her blood pressure was also low.”

The patient appeared to become much more unstable, and Hotchkiss immediately sought help from the attending physician, Michael Marchick, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine in the College of Medicine. Using an ultrasound, the physicians saw that the patient had intra-abdominal bleeding.

The patient was transported back to the trauma bay, where her condition worsened and she became less and less responsive. She immediately underwent surgery and has recovered fully.

“The emergency room teams are very good, helping each other when they need help and working as a team,” Hotchkiss said. “It’s a good testament to how well they share the workload.”

Hotchkiss, who was completing the emergency department rotation of his internship, said any physician would react in the same way.

“It’s all about recognizing the patterns — especially those types of patterns, which have been drilled into our heads,” Hotchkiss said. 

Even so, Hotchkiss’s recognition got a patient help quickly when it was needed the most.