Remote hospital’s rush to add modern technology proves prophetic

A 14-year-old boy’s doctors and mother vividly recall the day a serious car accident sent him to the hospital and the events that led to his survival

For more than 16 years, Dr. Pham Minh Hien has woken up at 6:30 a.m., conducted his morning routine, and traveled to Northwestern Nghe An General Hospital, where he works as Head of Diagnostic Imaging. Located in a remote province on the north central cost of Vietnam, Dr. Pham Minh Hien’s Diagnostic Imaging Department serves between 800-900 patients every month – but one particular patient stands out. “I can still recall it vividly,” said Dr. Pham Min Hein. “We were working the night shift when we heard the ambulance’s siren.” A 14-year-old boy was wheeled into the hospital following a traffic accident. Upon first glance, Dr. Pham Minh Hien knew his condition was serious. The boy was unconscious and showed signs of a head injury and significant blood loss. [video width="1920" height="1012" mp4=""][/video]   He was immediately wheeled into surgery and his mothered was called. “When my son was in the operating room that evening, every minute felt like an hour,” recalls Ms. Hoang Thi Tran, the patient’s mother. “I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t do anything. All I could do was cry and beg the doctors to please save my son.”   [video width="1920" height="1012" mp4=""][/video]   In the operating room, the doctors worked frantically to stop the blood loss and assess the boy’s injuries. Being in such a remote location, they understood that the boy likely wouldn’t survive a trip to next closest hospital, 300 kilometers away – they were his only hope. [video width="1920" height="1012" mp4=""][/video]   “Throughout the surgery I was afraid he wouldn’t make it if he had to be transfer to a hospital in another city,” the boy’s mother said. “By this time, he was paralyzed and, in a coma, and I was preparing myself for the worst.” After the boy’s bleeding was stopped and he was deemed stable, Dr. Pham Minh Hien quickly ordered a full-body CT scan on the hospital’s 16-slice Revolution ACT. They needed a better view of the boy’s internal injuries – and they needed it fast. [video width="1920" height="1012" mp4=""][/video]   “Without the multi-slice CT scanner, it would have been very difficult for us to properly diagnose his internal injuries and ultimately save his life,” said Dr. Pham Min Hein. “He could have been in grave danger without the CT scanner.” Several years before, Northwestern Nghe An General Hospital recognized the need for a new, state-of-the-art CT scanner to better serve the community.   [video width="1920" height="1012" mp4=""][/video]   Prior to this campaign, the hospital could only accommodate 10-15 patients a day. Now, they can serve 25-30 patients a day – patients like this young boy. “When encountering emergency cases like this, it was critical that the CT scanner is easy and fast to operate to speed up the process,” said Nguyen Trung Hieu, CT technician at Northwestern Nghe An General Hospital. “In some cases, a few minutes saved means a life saved.” [video width="1920" height="1012" mp4=""][/video]   The boy’s CT scans revealed his skull, near his forehead, was fractured and he had an epidural hematoma, a traumatic accumulation of blood between the skull and brain. Immediately after reviewing the scans, the doctors quickly ordered that the boy return to the operating room for emergency surgery. There they performed a craniotomy to remove the hematoma and reduce the pressure it was placing on the boy’s brain. “Thanks to the doctors, thanks to the hospital, thanks to the CT scanner, we don’t have to travel far for treatments,” said the young boy’s mother. “This is a huge benefit for us patients.” [video width="1920" height="1012" mp4=""][/video]   “Now I can smile and feel relieved. Watching my son get better every day makes me happy,” she continued. “Health is the most valuable treasure of life. With good health, there is nothing that can’t be achieved.” Watch the full story here:   NOTE: The interviews and re-enactments depicted in this video feature the personal testimonials of actual patient, family and clinicians who went through the following events at Northwestern Nghe An General Hospital. GE Healthcare has no influence over or responsibility for the content of such testimonials.