Paige F Mystery in the ED

“Dr. Campeas ordered tests that indicated what was wrong with me. Thank God she did that. It saved my life. I’m so grateful.”

When a patient's pain wasn't what it seemed, determined doctors found the true cause

In an Emergency Department (ED), emergency medicine specialists are often called on to make fast decisions for the acute care of trauma. Sometimes, though, they’re called on to rely on their training and instincts to find complex causes of a problem. That’s what happened when college student Paige Fleming of Carteret went to the ED at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Rahway.

Paige, 19, had suffered leg pain for a week, which she’d chalked up to a muscular pull from overexercise. But as time went on, her discomfort grew worse, eventually becoming excruciating. One afternoon, she fainted in her dorm room. “When I woke, the pain was better, but my mother, along with my cousin who’s a nurse, insisted that I go to the Emergency Department,” Paige recalls.

Seeking the Source

At RWJUH Rahway, Paige met Emergency Department physician Sarah Campeas, DO, who observed that Paige’s leg was painful, swollen and discolored. She ordered blood work. When the initial workup failed to reveal the cause of Paige’s symptoms, and her pain was worsening, Dr. Campeas ordered more tests, including a CT (computed tomography) scan.

Paige, who had assumed her visit to the ED would be a short one, grew anxious as the testing continued. "The nurses and other staff went out of their way to comfort me,” she remembers. The second round of tests finally revealed the source of Paige’s problem. She had numerous blood clots in her body, including her lungs—a potentially fatal complication.

Blood clots can travel to critical blood vessels, leading to limited blood flow and the risk of heart attack, stroke and more. “It was very fortunate that Paige sought medical attention when she did,” says Dr. Campeas. Paige was sent to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with a regimen of blood-thinning drugs. Additional testing showed that Paige had a clotting disorder. She remained in the ICU until she recovered. Paige had no idea that she suffered from this disorder and credits the doctor’s persistence and skill for discovering it. “Dr. Campeas ordered tests that indicated what was wrong with me. Thank God she did that. It saved my life. I’m so grateful.”

“One of the best parts of my job is helping someone navigate the scariest experience or worst day of their lives,” says Dr. Campeas. “In Paige’s case we are fortunate that modern medicine has treatment, tools and specialists to help her live a long, healthy and full life. I am rewarded knowing I had a part in contributing to that.”

The RWJUH Rahway ED is open 24/7 and offers diagnostic imaging and laboratory services. In an emergency, call 911. Quick, high-quality care for non-emergency medical needs is offered at First Health Clark, 732-382-9700 and First Health Edison, 732-662-4680.