Wednesday, November 01, 2006

First Night

As you know, JP was hit by a bus. Fortunately (!) it was right outside our office so people at our company knew about it straight away.

Apparently the ambulance was delayed getting to the scene enabling journalists to arrive there first. This, obviously, made the Hangzhou Bus Company very nervous because they committed to having someone from their company present at the hospital at all times and to foot the bill for any treatment.

JP did go to the Tongde hospital where (contrary to the newspaper article) he did not undergo surgery, only a CT scan, and was rapidly moved to the Zhejiang #2 Hospital which is larger and apparently where the Bus Company send all their top officials. By the time I got there, they were going to take him for a new CT scan.

So, we went with him (on a trolley, his head and hands covered in blood) to the CT room which involved going up two floors in a lift. Which stopped 2 inches higher than the floor so thud went the trolley and 'Ow!' went JP. Bizarrely we then had to go down a steep ramp and hope JP wouldn't slide off the trolley.

In the CT scan room, there was one attendant who told us that we'd have to move him onto the CT machine ourselves as he couldn't do it so, trained IT staff and bus company officials that we were, we carried out the move. As they'd installed a drip (it's a default reaction in Chinese hospitals - you've got an injury, they put you on a drip - you've got a cold, they put you on a drip - etc.) they just left one of our staff in the room holding the bottle and ran away themselves to avoid the x-rays.

The really exciting part happened when the results came back and the neurosurgeon came to review them. He said "There's definitely bleeding in the skull and contusion to the brain which is causing swelling. It might be best to wait a few hours and repeat the CT but there is a risk if the bleeding continues. Alternatively it might be best to operate now to relieve the pressure but there's obviously risks associated with operating on his brain. What do you want me to do?"

The straightforwardness of that question simply stunned me. So, the consultant neurosurgeon says "It might be a good idea to operate, or it might be a good idea to wait" and then says we (a bunch of his colleagues) are expected to make the decision, without him expressing any opinion as to which way this should go. We protest that a) we're not his family, so it's not our decision to make, b) we're a bunch of IT people and aren't equipped to make that decision and would expect him as a brain surgeon to make a recommendation.

He refused, several more times, to even hint as to which direction the decision should go. JY, a Chinese colleague explained that obviously this is a terrible dilemma and we shouldn't be in this position, but the neurosurgeon is in fear of his career because the press already knew about this 'story' so if anything went wrong his career could be over. I explained that in my opinion, if the Neurosurgeon wouldn't make a recommendation, I believe that, in itself, would be an act of gross negligence on his part.

Fortunately we had a backup plan - what a wonderful investment the insurance was. We were very quickly put in touch with a Dr. Vargus based in Beijing and were able to photograph the CT scans which I emailed to Dr. V.

It was a breath fresh air to get the call saying "I've reviewed the CT scans and there's no need to operate immediately - wait and get another CT done in the morning" - not only was it the voice of common sense (accepting responsibility for the decision) but also the result we were hoping for as we still hadn't tracked down any of JP's family by that point.

My biggest question in all this is, if this happened to me, and if I was in some random part of the city where my family and colleagues didn't know I'd been injured, would the bus company officials be the ones making the "Should we operate or not?" decision and, more worryingly, would they actually do so?


Reluctant Nomad said...

It's good to have James back in town again. I've spoken to him a couple of times but not seen him yet. A plan is brewing for a quiet reunion sometime over the weekend.

HistoryElephant said...

dB, shouldn't you be wearing dog-tags with appropriate contact information in English and Chinese?

dB said...

I'm sure it's a relief for everyone for him to be back in the UK. Not least for JG (his partner for those that don't know) who must be relieved at not having to put up with the circular conversations where JP had forgotten the fact he'd had that conversation 20 minutes ago. And 40. And 60...

Several weeks with that, mostly on your own, has to be tough.

HE - Indeed something like that would seem a good plan!

mike said...

Unbelievable! Well done for handling the situation in the way that you did. (I must have spoken to you on the phone shortly after the neurosurgeon had put you on the spot, as you were about to send the CT scans off for the second opinion.)

It's wonderful to see JP back in the office, almost fully back to normal (apart from the exciting wound on the back of his head).

basil said...

Exciting wound!? Pictures please! At once!!!

portious - dog tags? don't they eat them?

JP said...

I can't thank you enough for being the brains of the bunch and saving my fragile skull from unnecessary surgery; I'm still a bit dotty, so who knows what I'd have ended up like.


jms said...

I heard the bash on the head turned him gay.

The Humanaught said...

Hey DB, as you're aware, I've no love of hospitals and recent requirements to be in one. Good job man, I hope that should I ever be in the situation, I've someone like you to watch my back.