Medics had night­mares of at­tacks af­ter work

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - JILL POULSEN

THE night af­ter Dr Marcelo Kanczuk worked on one of the Cid Har­bour shark at­tack vic­tims, he was plagued by bad dreams about the ra­zor­toothed ocean preda­tors.

“A few of us had night­mares of be­ing at­tacked by a shark,” he said. “We had some dis­tress. That’s the rea­son why we do a de­brief­ing, so we could say what ev­ery­one felt and if we needed ex­tra sup­port. It was a very stress­ful sit­u­a­tion.”

Anaes­thetist Dr Kanczuk did not want to say which of the three shark at­tack vic­tims he worked on in or­der to pre­serve the pa­tient’s pri­vacy.

“I think it was about 20 min­utes from when the pa­tient ar­rived in hos­pi­tal to when they were pre­pared and ready for surgery,” he said.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing how we can get very stressed be­fore the ex­pe­ri­ence – ev­ery­one is very anx­ious about what we are go­ing to see, be­cause we don’t have a lot of in­for­ma­tion about the pa­tient. But when they ar­rive ev­ery­one works so calmly and we work so well to­gether.”

Dr Kanczuk has worked in 10 hos­pi­tals all over the world and said the treat­ment all three pa­tients re­ceived at Mackay Base Hos­pi­tal was sec­ond to none.

“It was amaz­ing … for the two who did sur­vive, that may not have been the case in 95 per cent of hos­pi­tals around the world,” he said.

Hos­pi­tal in­ten­sive care unit head Dr Stu­art Baker has worked in West­ern Aus­tralia, so th­ese weren’t his first ex­pe­ri­ences with shark vic­tims. The ICU team was tasked with mon­i­tor­ing blood loss.

“Th­ese three pa­tients all lost a lot of blood be­fore they even got to hos­pi­tal, and part of what hap­pens when you lose a lot of blood is it lim­its your abil­ity to clot, so if you lose a lot of blood you con­tinue to lose more and more blood,” he said.

“Los­ing a lot of blood pre­dis­poses peo­ple to be­ing very sick and hav­ing a pro­longed stay in hos­pi­tal, so if we can min­imise the amount of blood lost we can help keep them alive and keep them alive in a bet­ter state that they would oth­er­wise be.”

He said one of the most chal­leng­ing as­pects of deal­ing with a com­plex trauma case was man­ag­ing the pa­tients’ fam­i­lies. This is where so­cial worker Tracey Good comes in. She was the duty so­cial worker for all three cases.

“Mak­ing sure (the fam­ily)

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