"A need that needs to be met" by Victor Pisano in the Bryan County News last week had me asking just one question. Why didn’t Mr. Pisano just call 911? An ambulance would have been immediately dispatched to his residence. The EMS providers are fully capable of administering epinephrine (the turkey baster shot he complained about), the treatment of choice for wasp stings.
It’s not difficult to believe that Mr. Pisano was turned away by South Coast and the walk-in clinic in Richmond Hill. If Mr. Pisano was having a severe systemic (anaphylactic) reaction to a wasp sting he would not have been turned away anywhere!! Life threatening reactions, such as shock, dizziness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing and laryngeal blockage resulting from swelling in the throat require immediate medical care. I would hope that any medical facility in Richmond Hill is prepared to identify and appropriately treat a person having a severe systemic or anaphylactic reaction.
If he walked in and said to the receptionist (in a waiting room teeming with sick people who actually have an appointment) "I’ve been stung by some wasps" he wasn’t in dire condition or by any means considered an EMERGENCY.
By the time he showered and drove into Savannah he could have been sitting in his living room at the Ford Plantation conversing about how his taxes pay for such a wonderful thing as emergency medical services.
Maybe Mr. Pisano’s emergency is not as dangerous as he perceives it to be. An allergic reaction to a wasp sting can be minor skin symptoms or a more serious anaphylactic reaction. As a rule, the severity of the response can be estimated by how quickly it occurs after the sting. Most fatalities occur within 1 hour - with the most severe reactions occurring within 10 minutes of the wasp sting. Only a very limited portion of the population (1-2 people out of 1,000) is allergic or hypersensitive to wasp stings. The rest of the population has to endure the non-life-threatening reactions; hives, swelling, pain at sting sites, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and headaches.Individuals who are aware of an allergic reaction to bee or wasp stings should carry epinephrine such as the auto-injector (Epi-Pen) with them whenever they may encounter stinging insects. Children as young as 7 years old can be taught to inject themselves with epinephrine in an emergency situation. All the school nurses in Bryan County are certified in caring for students with allergic reactions. Even though they administer epinephrine at the school in emergency situations, they also call 911 and the student is taken to a local hospital. This is because epinephrine only lasts 10-15 minutes and symptoms may worsen as the drug wears off.
Unfortunately for Mr. Pisano, wasps are social insects and they tend to attack a victim in groups. I’m sure multiple wasps’ stings are enough to send anyone over the edge. But asking about a trauma center in Richmond Hill?
Trauma services (15 in the state of Georgia) are in financial crisis. Memorial Hospital which boasts a Level 1 trauma center is financially impecunious. Spend a couple nights at Memorials emergency room and see for yourself how many people don’t have actual emergencies. Many have no private doctor, no insurance, no money to even buy over the counter cold medicine but the ER will provide for them - medical care, medicines, bandages, even transportation back home if needed. Our current medical system is a fiasco and that’s why you had to sign insurance papers first. Who do you think is paying for all the non-paying patients?
Sue Romeo, RN, BSN, CAPA