One of the many benefits of being treated at a super-regional health care system like University Hospitals is having access to state-of-the-art medical devices and technology. UH institutes, with locations all across Northeast Ohio, have protocols in place so patients receive the same high-quality care no matter which UH hospital they visit.
In the case of patient Jennetta Hawk, a quick-thinking physician requested that a new, leading-edge device be retrieved from UH Parma Medical Center and brought to UH St. John Medical Center, where it was used to save her life.
Rushed to the Emergency Department
Ms. Hawk, 78, of North Ridgeville, was recovering from surgery at a Westlake nursing home when caregivers noticed that her vital signs were dropping. She was quickly taken to the emergency department at UH St. John Medical Center, where doctors found her blood pressure and her oxygenation were very low, despite her being on maximum oxygen support. UH St. John emergency physician David McConoughey, DO, suspected Ms. Hawk was suffering from a pulmonary embolism (PE) – a blood clot that travels to the lungs.
What is Pulmonary Embolism?
PE is a serious condition that can be fatal. It usually starts with blood clots forming in the leg veins that end up dislodging and traveling through the heart to the arteries in the lungs. This causes the heart to pump against an obstruction, causing strain on the heart, which can fail and lead to death. Treating these clots in the lungs in a timely fashion can save a life. With advances in endovascular management of PE, physicians can remove clots in minutes through a pin-sized hole in the groin.
A CT scan confirmed Dr. McConoughey’s suspicion, so UH interventional radiologist Mohammed Al-Natour, MD, who was on-call that evening, was alerted to the situation.
Sharing Resources to Save a Life
“Because Jennetta had surgery the week before, it would have been high-risk to administer clot-busting medication to her,” Dr. Al-Natour says. “Open surgical clot removal – a high-risk procedure – would have required Jennetta to be placed on a heart-lung bypass machine. I felt the patient’s best option was a new-to-market device called the Inari FlowTriever®. But the device hadn’t arrived at UH St. John yet and transferring her would delay care she required immediately. So, while my team and I took Jennetta to surgery, we requested the device be brought to us from UH Parma. When she was prepped and we were ready to begin the procedure, the device arrived. Everything was orchestrated perfectly.”
As Dr. Al-Natour began removing the blood clots, Ms. Hawk’s condition improved quickly while she was still on the operating table.
“A nurse who assisted me with the procedure remarked how amazing it was to see the patient’s blood pressure and oxygenation improving within seconds of using the device. I couldn’t be more pleased with how the care teams at both hospitals collaborated to help save Jennetta’s life,” Dr. Al-Natour says.
UH St. John now has an Inari FlowTriever® on-site, which is available whenever needed.
“The results using the Inari FlowTriever® are quite amazing,” says emergency department medical director Carla O’Day, MD. “The entire UH St. John emergency department is enthusiastic about this new device. During our last staff meeting, Dr. Al-Natour gave a presentation that outlined how quickly the device can have a noticeably positive effect on patients. It was a good educational process for the emergency staff. We have updated protocols in place for future patients who present to us with pulmonary embolism.”
Just 48 hours after her procedure, Ms. Hawk was well enough to be discharged.
“The staff at the hospital referred to Jennetta as the ‘miracle patient,’" says Ms. Hawk's husband, Chuck. “We are both very grateful for the care she received at UH St. John.”
At a recent follow-up appointment, Dr. Al-Natour reviewed Ms. Hawk’s CT scans with her and her husband, and thoroughly explained all the details of her care.
“Finding a doctor who takes that much time with patients is rare and wonderful,” Mr. Hawk says. “We can tell that he went into medicine to truly care for people.”