Author Question: Treating Injuries Related to Torture 1/2

Taylor Asks:

I have some character injury questions that I could use your help with, if you don’t mind! I contacted you last year with a bunch of questions about car crashes and injuries for another book that I was working on, and you were a tremendous help. I have some questions for this story, and thought I’d reach out to you again.
This story is a political thriller. One of my characters (Erin) is an American government agent who is ambushed and kidnapped by an Iraqi insurgent/terrorist leader while working in Iraq. He took her for two reasons. One is that he wants to use her as leverage/a bargaining chip to get what he wants. The other, more significant, reason is revenge. John (her current partner/coworker) had been a member of the US Army Special Forces. During a mission in the Middle East, he killed a fairly high-ranking terrorist who was responsible for the deaths of several US military members. That happened to be this man’s brother. Now this man has taken Erin, and plans to kill her – he wants John to know the pain of losing a loved one, and plans to make them both pay for John’s “crimes.”
One of her guards helps her escape after three or four days. He can’t deliver her back to the Americans, so he takes her to a local hospital and hands her over to the staff there for medical care. She is then rescued by the military a few days later. 
Iraqi insurgents are well known for their methods of torture and brutality to their captives. Fortunately for Erin, she was spared the worst of it; all things considered, they didn’t treat her TOO terribly.
Question #1: She’s hungry and dehydrated (they gave her very little food and water.) Other than IV fluids and adequate food and water after she is rescued, is there anything else that would need to be done?
Jordyn Says: In a time frame of four days, yes, she is likely dehydrated but she shouldn’t be terribly malnourished. A couple of liters of fluid (Normal Saline or NS) should get her feeling much better. Than some fluids that have some sugar and electrolytes in it at maintenance until she’s eating well and peeing well.  

We’ll continue with the remainder of Taylor’s questions tomorrow!

ED Issues: Cop versus Nurse

My brother works in the next county over as a deputy sheriff. I always say a writer is blessed if they have a law enforcement officer and a medical person in the family. That helps cover a lot of manuscript issues. My brother does patrol so, at times, he’ll bring a person in custody to the ER for drug testing. After a frustrating interaction with the ED staff, I’ll get an irate call from him, “Why did the ER do that!” Most often, it has to do with making him wait.

Personally, I have a great respect for the police and know their time is valuable as they would rather be on the road than stuck in the ER. Most areas of conflict come up when we don’t understand the other’s work. ER nurses get upset with the floors when they don’t take an admission quickly because we can’t stop what walks into the department even if we close to ambulances. The floors think the ED didn’t do enough of an evaluation and left too much for them to do. Nearly every agency that receives and hands-off people to someone else has sources of conflict– this is guaranteed.

When my brother called to complain about how long he’d had to wait for his prisoner to get his lab work, I immediately wanted to defend the ER workers.

These are the first things I thought.

1. The prisoner is a low priority. We’re going to take care of sick patients first. The higher the acuity in the ER, the longer the wait time is likely to be. We have to save lives first.

2. Confusion on what needs to be done. I remember this from my adult ER days. We’re not drawing blood or doing drug testing on prisoners every day. Since it’s not something done often, there are likely questions on the proper procedure. We’re going to want to make sure it’s done correctly, particularly if it goes to court. The delay could be the staff actually researching how to handle the situation (what tubes to put the blood in and what paperwork to fill out).

3. The prisoner has a babysitter. I know that’s a horrible term for a police officer. Generally, a police officer cannot leave someone who is in his custody. So, as the ER staff, we know there’s an extra set of eyes on that person and we will worry less about something happening to them.

What other sources of conflict do you see? Have you written a scene with a mix of ER and law enforcement?