What is the issue?


My contribution to Awareness
Hospitals can be dangerous -- My Experiences with Fragrances and Mold
FEBRUARY 24, 2011

On 2/24/2011 I went to the new Valley Medical ER to see if they can determine if I might have some form of carotid artery blockage. The pain below my right jaw has been bothersome. I tried to see my physician but she would not be available for another two weeks. I do have a deteriorated right shoulder which might be the source of pain. I do want to rule out conditions that might lead to stroke.

The ER in Renton is in the new wing...seems to be nice! I was on a bed waiting for a EEG test.  The technician wheeled in the instrumentation. I

Immediately sensed that he was manifesting a scented personal care product with some form of fragrance. I asked him if he was wearing deodorant (a scented personal care product, hereafter referred to as deodorant). He said he was. I told him to leave.  Too late.  

Fragrances associated with perfume, deodorants, clothes washing detergents, fabric softeners, hair powders, hand lotions, and other sources cause an almost immediate (5-6 seconds) cessation of breathing or some form of acute respiratory distress. My lungs are clear, my oxygen level appears okay, the stress of trying to breath will raise my pulse. My brain and respiratory nerve structures trigger a real battle to survive for a few minutes before I collapse. I have learned over the past few year to do whatever I have to to avoid the source before I collapse.

I had correspondence with Valley General Administration on a related issue wherein I passed out in the pulmonary function test box because of irritants in the waiting room and the testing area and had problems getting out of the offending area.

In this instance I got rid of the technician and wrestled with two or three nurses until I finally got one good breath (I refer to it as getting a breath over the top!) and settled down enough to relax. I pointed out that I had left my albuteral atomizer in my car. We discussed the use of an albuteral treatment.

A respiratory technician came in (a slight detection of fragrance) and handed me a nebulizer, turned it on.  On the second breath I felt the spray burning the back of my throat, my throat swelling and I coughed twice and blacked out briefly, the nebulizer fell off to the side. At that moment I could not move, or speak.   I could see the floor and hear the nebulizer hissing into the air and hear the technician say "it would be better if you held the tube in your mouth". He was oblivious to the fact that I was paralyzed as he left the room.  After a several minutes I was able to roll off the bed, and sit on a chair, focus on breathing and practiced Morris code with the call button.

My breathing stabilized enough for me to relax so that the EEG test could be run.  The doctor came in and we talked for a couple of minutes about why I came into the ER. There was little to no discussion of my respiratory episode.  The respiratory technician came to retrieve the equipment.

During the discussions my eyes were closed while I was as deep into relaxation as I could get and still talk.  A question was asked about the effect of the respiratory treatment.  I explained it was a complete disaster, in that the tube fell out for the whole procedure. I thought I was talking to the doctor but when I detected fragrance and the beginning of another respiratory paralysis I opened my eyes and found the technician was there retrieving his equipment. (Note: for all practical purpose no test was made except for billing purposes.)

I told the doctor I had to get out of the room and away from anyone with a fragrance on and yanked off all the electrical leads, grabbed my bag and pushed my way out of the exam room with one objective...get fresh air. I staggered I tried to keep one eye the floor pattern for navigation. Several people grabbed me at different times and tried to restrain me. This severely aggravated my deteriorated right shoulder but I was so stressed the pain did not immediately register.

In my struggling down the corridor I said a number of times I had to get away from deodorant and if I can smell you to get away.  I heard a number of people say "we all wear deodorant".

I heard comments in the ER waiting room to the effect that people thought I was dying. I was struggling for every breath.  By the time I got to the front door I had pulled off the gown managed to get a pullover over my head.  With my eyes closed going through the door I bumped into somebody, I opened an eye and saw boots and smelled the security guard.  I opened my eyes enough to see the guard and heard some one say "let him go". I turned my head and saw the doctor and one of the nurses from the examination room. 

I staggered away from them and collapsed on a steel car restraining post long enough to catch a breath.  I then moved on to find a bench in front of the hospital entrance, where I could put down my bag, take off the pullover (snow on the ground and very cold), pull a tee shirt on and then the pullover. My breathing improved.  I was breathing clean air, the adrenaline was kicking in and I would have run the truck at the other end of the parking lot if I didn't have such a bad knee (to be replaced April 18).

The stress and strain from the physical exertion escaping from the ER did not completely register until the next day. Then for the next two day I was limited by extreme pain in both shoulders; the one with an artificial ball and socket and the one that needs to be replaced.

This was the fourth encounter with respiratory stress triggers -- molds, fragrances, cleaning solutions -- at Valley General and affiliated facilities that should be under the control of the hospital/clinic management and under the purview of county and state regulatory commissions.

FEBRUARY 4, 2011

The Nephrology Clinic in the Medical Arts Building recently closed and moved to a new facility in Kent.  I went there for an exam and did not make it across the new lobby before experiencing the onset of respiratory distress and had to leave and cancel my appointment. This required going elsewhere (PolyCLinic in downtown Seattle).

March 3, 2010

In March of 2010 I went for a pulmonary function test in the Pulomary Test Facility in the Medical Arts Building which is one floor above a walk-way between a parking garage and the Medical Arts Building. For several years I had detected what smelled like mold in the walk way and always held my breath when passing through it. (I had to use the walk way to wheel my 93 year old invalid mother to the X-Ray facility review.) While waiting in the reception area I felt the onset of a resiratory problem. When I was finally escorted to the testing room I noticed the odors. Even before the testing start I passed out in the Pulmonary test chamber. Eventually I had to literally battle my way out of the clinic. One healpful attendant tried to help me up by lifting me up by my left arm -- the left shoulder had been replaced several months before -- the pain pulled me out of my stupor. Then I had to literally battle my way out of the clinic so I could use my inhaler because drugs could not be taken there and the staff had called 911 and wanted me to stay there until emergency crew arrive.

The next day took the pulonary test in the hospital facility without any issues. However, when the test results were available I would have see the pulmonary staff in the space that was toxic to me. This meant I had to go to a different medical facility (PacMed in Seattle) and redo the tests. This meant extra tests and the doubling of medicare charges and insurance charges.

My Concern

My concern here is the apparent lack of Hospital policy on the wearing of scented personal care products which can put patients in respiratory distress and risk. Of course, I am told the Hospital has restrictions on wearing sources of fragrance. This is very personal issue and should be of general concern. If there are policies they do not appear to be enforced.