Collapse in the supermarket

Collapse in the supermarket

Author: Murtagh, John

The story

One morning I received an urgent call from the manager of the local supermarket, which was  only about 50 meters from my clinic. “Would you please come because the ambulance may take about 30 or more minutes”? The manager said that a young man who had been shopping was found unconscious and was probably dead. He may have been lying on the floor forseveral minutes because there were no witnesses to the collapse. I grabbed my doctor’s emergency bag and walked to the supermarket. I was confronted by the unusual sight of an unconscious man of about 30 years lying among a large assortment of cans and packets of foodstuffs that had collapsed as he fell through the stacked goods. I could see that he  was breathing. To my concern, there was a large crowd of people (approximately 50) who had gathered around, although keeping a distance as they seemed ‘paralyzed’ by the threatening situation. Some people gave advice on management, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation. According to one bystander, the man was staggering as though he was drunk some minutes before the collapse. Unfortunately, I did not recognize him as one of my patients. I quickly assessed his vital signs and the vital signs were normal, apart from a rapid pulse. We had been taught in medical school to perform three basic tests on the unknown unconscious patient (blood sugar, urine drug profile, and ophthalmoscopy). In this case, there was no time or occasion for that! Thus, I looked in his pockets and wallet, hoping to find some useful medical information. Jackpot! He carried a card indicating that he was an insulin-dependent diabetic. Mr. X was suffering from a hypoglycaemic attack.
Document Type: Research Article

Keywords: hypoglycaemic attack; blood sugar; collapse; unconscious patient; ophthalmoscopy; insulin-dependent diabetic