A Patient’s Story:
Paying attention to the tiniest detail can lead to the correct diagnosis and, possibly, save a patient’s life. As a 2-year-old girl, Jacqueline (Jackie) Gamache’s visit to the Holland Hospital Emergency Department has a happy ending, thanks to medical personnel who paid attention to her symptoms.
Gamache was born in May of 1984 to Roger and Anne. Two years later, Jackie was in daycare when she showed signs of not feeling well. Roger and Anne were notified and brought Jackie home early. Later that evening, they noticed that her feet were extremely hot. Not knowing what else to do, the Gamaches brought Jackie to the Emergency Department at Holland Hospital.
Jackie was immediately attended to by a nurse who took her medical history. Soon after, Jackie was visited by a second nurse who also took a medical history. Dr. Larry Smith then came into the room to take a third medical history and have some blood work done. At this point, no diagnosis was made, but Dr. Smith knew enough to suggest Jackie stay overnight for observation. The hospital made arrangements for Anne to spend the night while Roger returned home. At approximately midnight, Roger received a call that Jackie was not improving and it was decided to do a spinal procedure to draw some spinal fluid. They suspected she might have meningitis. Soon after, Jackie was indeed diagnosed with meningitis. Fortunately, it was caught at such an early stage that there was no permanent damage. Jackie was easily treated with antibiotics and a week later had recovered completely.
Later, the Gamaches learned what had actually transpired behind the scenes. During one of the first medical history intakes, the nurse had noted that when Jackie’s mother asked her to stand up, she refused. This small detail caught the attention of Dr. Smith because it was an indication of joint pain. It was his diligence and careful study of Jackie’s medical history that caused him to consider meningitis. This quick diagnosis saved Jackie’s life. The Gamaches are forever grateful for the extraordinarily thoughtful and compassionate care provided by Holland Hospital.