Monday, June 18, 2007

Army Spc. Mark Ryan Climaco Caguioa

MaryAnne from Soldiers Angel Germany pointed me out to Mark's story last week and I told her I would write about it after reading into it more, here are my thoughts.

Corporal Caguioa was the son Filipino immigrants, raised in Stockton and graduated from Bear Creek High School class of 2002. After high school, he worked at a sushi chef before enlisting in the Army in 2005 and deployed to Iraq in October of 2006.

On the 4th of May 2007, he lost both of his legs from an improvised explosive device and later lost his left arm. According to the news reports I’ve read, he also had some major head injuries and was given 6 units of blood. He later died on the 24th of May and President personally went and offered his condolences to his family the day following.

This is where the story gets strange, multiple Asian and Filipino news papers started coming out with stories about Cpl Caguioa receiving the wrong blood type. What bothers me here isn’t the story that someone received the wrong blood type but the way that it was released. So far, I’ve read 7 stories about it and 5 of them say that he was B positive and received O positive blood (which is actually the proper procedure, O being the universal donor) and 2 that say that he was O positive and received B positive blood (which is generally considered a bad thing). But having the 2 different stories out means that one side or the other is totally wrong. It's a black or white deal, yes or no in this case. If you don't know the answer, then don't publish till you do.

If this story told to the press was released by Mark’s family, I could understand that. They would have access to Mark’s medical file but the only way the military is going to release that information is following an investigation. Have you ever seen a military investigation lasting less then a week? I think the news media involved here should have waited before jumping the gun. Publishing in haste without proper editorial review labels your paper a tabloid which is one step away from blog, at least you get paid for what you write.

Here's a link to the stories on Mark

Mark had some massive injuries and it would have been a miracle if he survived even a few years ago but military medicine has taken up the miracle business lately if you haven't noticed. We save people would have been written off and the idea that we didn’t do all that was possible for Mark is wack. Even with doing everything under the sun, people aren’t machines, medicine isn’t like replacing out a worn out belt or bolt. There is a reason they call what I do practicing medicine because we do practice, each day we're learning more about the human body. We can’t know or see everything that is happening inside but we try. If we did, there would be no death or aging and the common cold and HIV would be things you read about in a history book. We’re damn good but we’re not even close to reaching the limit of what’s possible. And in cases like Mark, I think he was at that limit.

Privacy is a big deal in the medical community, one of the quickest ways for a corpsman to get busted down is to break patient confidentiality. I’ve seen some fairly interesting things in my line of work but make it a point not to talk about it to others, not in person nor on the blog. In a case such as this, if there was a someone who talked to the press about a patient, using his real name about a patients medical history. That person likely has some heavy brass breathing down his neck and believe me, I don't feel sorry for them one bit. This is a serious business that we're in, part of being professional is that we play by the rules and don't make them up as we go. Having your name published as the source for that medical information about a patient? I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes man unless that was your job as a public affairs guy to give out that information as an official statement from the hospital.

Rest in peace Mark, my prayers go out to you, your family and fiancée Megan.

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