Thursday, February 11, 2010
I've been spending the last couple of days working in a Haitian hospital, needless to say the conditions are pretty desperate. There is an army of healthcare professionals that has descended on this country, bringing with them countless tons of medical supplies. Still the conditions remain austere and physicians, paramedics and nurses must often scrounge around to find the appropriate equipment to do their jobs. It's forcing us to think harder, to make due without, and to improvise with what we have on-hand. More often than not the availability of supplies and equipment dictate what procedures we can and cannot do for the patient. We don't run a lot of labs, only those that are absolutely essential. We may not have the appropriate sized catheter or even the next one up or down: we'll make the one that we have work. No laryngoscope blades? Time to refresh ourselves on digital intubation. This is austere medicine at its finest, and it's challenging our knowledge and inventiveness, and in the end making us all better physicians and medics.