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Treating the Whole Patient

May 26, 2020

Treat the whole patient, not just part

We were running a clinical study on erectile dysfunction. A 68-year-old male with obesity came in looking for help for his ED, so he thought he might qualify for the study. He had not had a medical workup for some time and wasn’t aware of any underlying diseases. I recommended he be screened for diabetes. He was then diagnosed with prediabetes and accepted into the study. He was also complaining of intermittent mild shoulder and back discomfort but thought it was due to his arthritis. Upon my suggestion, he agreed to consent for the cardiovascular arm of the study. Sure enough, his calcium levels were elevated. I immediately referred him to an interventional cardiologist who diagnosed him with triple vessel disease and type 2 diabetes. He had a triple bypass, and was referred for diabetes education. After the surgery his wife came with him to visit me. He was doing very well. She tearfully thanked me for saving her husband’s life.


Lessons Learned:

  1. Things are not always what they appear.
  2. Look at the whole patient, not just one part of the patient’s body.
  3. Refer, refer, refer.

Elaine Massaro, MS,RN, CDE APN, Research Coordinator Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

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