Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to convert your PPD

A story I heard from an attending physician:

Back when he was an intern, there was an ICU nurse who began having fevers, weight loss, and was coughing up blood. Being a nurse, she diagnosed herself with lung cancer. Since there was no effective cure, she decided not to seek medical attention and continued to work at her job until the end of her life, which she assumed would be imminent. About six months later, she died as expected.

Shortly after her death, my attending (then an intern) received a letter that explained that an ICU nurse had recently died of disseminated tuberculosis and they were contacting everyone who had worked with her to tell them to get a PPD. Apparently, she had misdiagnosed herself. Not only did she have a disease that was treatable and her life could have been saved, but she also managed to spread TB germs to all the really sick ICU patients she worked with.

"... and that's how I converted my PPD."


  1. Oh...that is so awful. A reminder to everyone to go to their doctor when they're sick!

  2. Ugh. That's horrid. What a shame.

  3. How does that go? "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client." I think we can say the same for health care providers.

    There also is the professional responsibility angle. Sad story.

  4. As a fellow RN - I can't believe that nurse was coughing up blood and didn't go in. We are exposed to different infectious disease - it is our responsibility to our patients, families, co-workers to take responsibility for our health.. So sad....

  5. Interesting, when I started reading this post the first thing I thought of was TB and not lung cancer. That's because I live in the place that has the highest concentration of TB per square metre in the world.
    I once had a patient whose heart was on the right due to a completely destroyed right lung: TB.

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