The 70-year-old woman had been belching for two days when she arrived at Taylor Hospital’s emergency department. The patient spoke dismissively of her high cholesterol and diabetes. These weren’t new problems, nor were they unique for a woman her age. Could Dr. Tamika King give her something for indigestion?
King started asking questions. Did the patient have pain or shortness of breath? No. “But I had a hunch that something was wrong, even though the tests—and the patient—were telling me that everything was fine,” says King.
King attached the patient to an EKG machine, which showed that she was having a heart attack. “We sent her up to the cath lab, and they immediately put in a stent,” King says. “The woman made a complete recovery.”
The patient’s diabetes had resulted in neuropathy, which masked the pain caused by the heart attack. Luckily, it wasn’t the sort of attack that results in immediate and complete blockage of arteries. And fortunately, the patient was the recipient of King’s persistent caregiving. “I’d say it was the indigestion that was persistent, and thank goodness for that,” says King. “That’s the amazing thing about emergency medicine—you never know what’s going to come through those doors.”