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» A C-Booth Tale……

A C-Booth Tale……

At 3 AM a man presented to C-Booth (the critical care section of the Emergency Department) vomiting massive amounts of blood and nearly choking to death.  He was going downhill fast, and needed to be intubated (placing a breathing tube).  The intubation was not going well, and his blood-oxygen levels were dropping as repeated attempts failed. He had a swollen throat with massive amount of blood making the procedure increasingly difficult and his life was in grave danger.  The attending physician decided to perform a cricothyroidotomy (an invasive surgical technique to place the breathing tube directly into the neck) as a life saving procedure.
Meanwhile the holding section of the ED (Emergency Department) had a dozen patients who had been waiting patiently for hours, separated from C-Booth by a few yards and a thin partition.  These people had come from all over town and all over the world knowing that nobody was turned away from this health care mecca in the city of angels. Two patients with leg amputations who had been quietly waiting 7 hours for an orthopedic referral were encouraged by fellow patients to provide some entertainment. Obliging the crowd of waiting patients they pulled out their guitars and began singing mariachi songs at the exact moment the cricothyroidotomy was to begin. 
The entire department became engulfed with festive Mexican songs, while a few yards away nurses and physicians desperately tried to save the man in C-Booth who was choking to death on his own blood and vomit.  The musicians were oblivious to the life and death occurrences just a partition away. A chorus of doctors and nurses immediately shot around the partition yelling for them to shut the “#$%&” up.  The musicians were shocked into silence. The man underwent the procedure successfully and survived. Everyone involved with his care quickly returned to their patients and previous tasks.  I don’t know if the musicians ever understood why their music was ended so rudely and abruptly considering manners and explanations were the last things on anybody’s mind that evening.
To this day whenever I am immersed in a chaotic ED dealing with life or death cases, blood and fluid splattering all around, I hear the melody “Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llores” and I do (sing and not cry).

120 Responses to “A C-Booth Tale……”

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