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When The Patient Can’t Afford The Care

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 1:24pm
Pauline W. Chen, MD

During my training, I took care of a man in his 50s with a devastating surgical complication: His abdominal incision had split open a week after an emergency operation.

Even after we had taken him back to the operating room, sewn the deepest layer of his abdominal wall closed and treated the infection that had caused his wound to fall apart in the first place, he still had a three-inch long crevice along the middle of his belly.

Until the edges contracted and the gaping expanse filled in on its own, he and his wife would have to pack damp gauze into the wound every day to keep it clean and help it heal.

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