“Privacy Reasons” Keeping Cheney Shooting Victim in ICU?
As stated in yesterday’s Tip of the Day the editors of this site do not have any direct patient care of Harry Whittington, who was shot by Vice-President Dick Cheney on February 12 in a hunting accident. Today, the news reports stated that the patient was being kept in the intensive care unit only for “privacy reasons” and not because of his condition.
However, boarding patients in the ICU who don’t need to be there for their medical condition has
generally fallen out of favor with intensive care physicians. It has been found in numerous studies that days in the ICU impact unfavorably on outcomes, that is, the more days you spend in an ICU (for whatever reason), the more likely you are to have complications or even death occur.
Why is this? There are several reasons. First, ICU’s are notorious for harboring dangerous bacteria and fungus that can be spread easily amongst patients. Second, patients in ICU beds tend not to get out of bed and walk around. Walking around or even sitting up in a chair helps to retard the formation of dangerous blood clots in the leg (deep vein thrombosis) that can break away and travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Third, the normal day-night cycles in the ICU are blurred, and patients have difficulty sleeping. Patients of all ages (but especially elderly patients) tend to become agitated and confused. In the medical vernacular it is called “ICU psychosis” and it is a difficult condition to treat when it occurs.
In addition to the medical reasons to not keep patients in the ICU, there is actually very little privacy. ICU’s are usually a crowded place with numerous staff, other patients, and families all in a usually quite small place.
Most hospitals of any size have private floor rooms in the “VIP” suite or wing that are used for cases like Mr. Whittington’s. These rooms are usually appointed with better furnishings and a better outside view than most hospital rooms.
So, keeping Mr. Whittington in the ICU for privacy just does not make sense. Is it possible that something else is going on that has not been released. Some of the questions that have not been answered are:
Did he receive electrical conversion for his atrial fibrillation?
Is he on the blood thinner coumadin for his atrial fibrillation?
What other medications is he being treated with?
Has his atrial fibrillation reoccurred?
Has he received an echocardiogram to look at the pumping motion of his heart?
Did any of the pellets puncture any of the other organs like the lungs or the liver?
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