Ted On Jess’ Central Lines | Jess’ Juxtapositions

On Central Lines | Jess' Juxtapositions.

With Jess (@jess_jacobs) permission, we made this hospitalization social – Check out the photos in this companion post, that include our use of everything under the sun, including Google Hangout, to share the experience. I actually went to the hospital myself to visit Jess and learn, comment on that below.

This year I get to be one of the 41,000 Americans to develop a Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infection (CLABSI). Since the general population’s chance of getting one of these is .0001%, I feel pretty special. As it turns out, these things are deadly and expensive. Since I’m me, I managed to get the most deadly kind of enterobacter bacteremia, enterobacter cloacae. Like the 42.6% of people die kind (usually CLABSIs only kill 12-25%). This also means it was the expensive kind. Haven’t seen a final bill, but based on past hospitalizations, my insurance company will actually pay out about 89 thousand dollars (average is $16,550) for the ten nights and 12 days I spent in the hospital. While definitely the most serious side effect of the PICC line, it was simply the last in a saga of medical errors and complications associated with the two lines I had.

I could comment on many parts of this saga, but I’ll focus on two things that affected me the greatest:

1. The part about Jess, who’s a busy person starting out her life being unsure/in denial about the seriousness of her condition. When this happens, it’s important for objective professionals and not close friends and family to be a voice for concern, because the combination of a close, emotional relationship, and a serious medical condition can be deadly. In these situations, the health system needs to be more accessible than a person’s friends over text, and no tattling should have to take place. I fell into this trap. It’s a near miss.

2. The hospital. Mixed feelings. About the staff who were so nice and so dedicated, but with signs and signals from the institution that created a feeling of unwelcomeness (challenged at the front desk about whether I could visit on 10:00 am on a Saturday), and an overall experience that leaves you wanting as you read the post.

Which brings me to my recommendation – read the post and see what kind of picture it paints for you. If we believe that everyone that goes into health care is exceptional, because you have to be to do a job this challenging (and we do believe it), what should be done to let that exceptionality shine?


Point number one is so true – Even if I don’t solicit health advice (really try to avoid that!) from my provider friends, if they know about it and don’t react it lulls me into a false sense of “this can’t kill me.” Makes it kinda hard to have friends who are doctors (even though I love you all so much!). Generally I know what I should do and just need someone to make me do it and confirm I’m not being a crazy alarmist – this is how Whitney (usually) end up providing the “proof” (anonymous crowdsourced professional opinions) confirming what I should do and then yells at me until I do (I love her). But you’re totally right about my actual provider availability –  I didn’t mention it, but the saga include at least 8 calls to hospitals/advice lines over all of this. I’m busy, ain’t nobody got time to wait on hold over here!

Ted Eytan, MD