Dr. Bryan Bledsoe was just trying to keep up. The ER at the small rural hospital was always packed and the top brass had urged him to move patients through more quickly, so when a woman in her sixties came in complaining of head and neck pain, he briskly examined her, hustled her off for an x-ray, gave her some pain medication for a pulled muscle, and dispatched her home.
The next morning, though, she was back—this time in an ambulance. Bledsoe had missed the signs of an impending stroke. The woman died in the hospital that day.
Dr. Bledsoe didn’t lack training or a desire to help; the doctor, who today serves as a faculty member and physician in the trauma center at the University Medical Center of South Nevada in Las Vegas, was as eager then to see his patients get better as he is now. But in the moment, strapped for time and overwhelmed with the varied needs of so many patients, he missed a diagnosis. It would haunt him for years.
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