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“Somethings a bit off!” Medical Emergencies

“Somethings a bit off!” Medical Emergencies

As a physiotherapist, we are highly trained to look out for “red flag” symptoms which could indicate a very serious condition.  These are few and far between, with many physiotherapists never coming across them in their careers.

One Saturday I was seeing my last patient and something seemed a little bit off in their presentation which gave me that gut feeling that a lot of therapists recognise. After asking lots of questions and confirming my suspicions with physical examination, I had to make the call.

My patient was presenting with a potentially life changing condition called cauda equina compression, which should be treated as a medical emergency.

I advised my patient of my thoughts and advised them to attend A&E urgently, on a Saturday afternoon, which obviously went down like a lead balloon!

Following this conversation and after sending the patient to A&E with a letter detailing the symptoms, I came into work on Monday and had a message.  My patient had attended A&E and was having the appropriate treatment and wanted to say thank you for spoiling their Saturday!

I continued to see my patient following their surgery and can happily say they have made an excellent recovery and are continuing to improve their fitness and having a very active life.

When presented with medical emergencies, it can be a stressful and upsetting experience for the patient and the therapist. But when you are able to manage these cases well and have a fantastic outcome with something that could have potentially lead to life changing injuries, it is an absolutely amazing feeling and reminds me why I became a physiotherapist and the importance of listening and going with your gut.

Tara Lawson
Chartered Physiotherapist



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