In this moving personal account, PRISYM ID Global Sales Manager, Warren Lesack, describes how his own recent experience of ill health has given him a different perspective on his job and a newfound determination to advocate for our role in supporting patient safety and harm reduction in healthcare.
It was my partner who told me that I needed to go to the hospital.
Over the previous weeks, I’d had pain in my jaw and upper back, and I wasn’t sleeping very well. In truth, I just felt a bit “off” and thought that maybe I needed to see a dentist. I’d certainly had none of what I thought were the classic symptoms of a heart attack – those sudden, excruciating chest pains you see in the movies or on television.
Yet October 14th was the day that changed my perspective about many things. I was not feeling at all well, so much so that had to pull out of a work meeting after admitting to my boss that I just did not feel right. I realized then that it was time to take this seriously, and I didn’t protest as my girlfriend scooped me into the car and we drove off to get me checked out.
When we got to the hospital, the clinical team found that my electro-cardiogram was normal, but my troponin levels were astronomically high. For those who’ve never had a close encounter with a cardiac unit, troponin is a protein that’s released into the blood when your heart muscles are damaged and in acute distress. While my doctor never used the term before my intervention, the results showed I was having a heart attack.
The rest happened rather quickly. I was wheeled into the catheterization lab and a stent was rapidly inserted through my arm to open the blockage that was slowly killing me. The strange thing for me is that I was woozy, but alert and conscious throughout the procedure and was able to engage in conversation. As those who know me will tell you, I love to talk!
Because I work with customers in the medical device industry, I took a particular professional interest in what was going on around me. It’s funny to think about it now, but you could see the medical team raising their eyebrows as I started chatting with them – no doubt wondering why this guy with a catheter in his radial artery knew so many obscure technical details of the procedure they were about to carry out.
But it was after the procedure – which was all over within 30 minutes – that the real professional significance of what had happened to me hit home; and particularly so when I reviewed the operation report and started to see some familiar names on the list.
The sheath that gained access to my radial artery, the catheter that was advanced across my body and throughout my heart, and the stent itself, a surprisingly simple piece of tubing that widened the structures in my heart to keep blood flowing around my body – all of them were equally important during this procedure.
I was comforted to know that so many of the medical devices used to save my life were manufactured, packaged and shipped by existing PRISYM ID clients. Our software, PRISYM 360, ensured that these devices were marked properly with the right production data which is required by regulatory bodies.
It’s really hard to describe how you feel when you realize you’re no longer just a sales professional, but a patient too. I certainly felt grateful for all the work we’ve done over the years to improve our product range, the way we’ve integrated with manufacturers’ other IT systems to support data integrity and reduce risk. All of this helped to keep me safe then and continues to keep me alive today.
It’s more than that though. Having a medical device inserted into you is an act of trust. The stent I had fitted is now an integral part of me. And that’s really personalized issues for me that I’d only ever thought about before in abstract.
The traceability and reliability of information, the unique identifiers that tell you the provenance and personalized details of your device – these matter so much for patients and for their safety and the integrity of their medical information. Many won’t realize it because we rarely get the spotlight shone on us, but you just can’t underestimate the importance of what we do and why it matters.
So what next?
Well, I’m making slow but steady progress on my journey back to health. I’ve been delighted to be able take some small steps towards coming back to work over the last few weeks, all under the careful supervision of my medical team. And I’m so grateful for all the messages of support I’ve received over the last few months and the wonderful support PRISYM ID has given me during my illness – honestly, I will never forget it.
More than anything though, I’m looking forward to getting back into the fold and using my own experience to draw attention to the significance of our work. I want to do this not just to land a few sales (though my boss might protest!), but because there’s so much more we can contribute to this debate and more we can do to design out errors in healthcare.
When all’s said and done, our work is fundamentally about ensuring more people like me get to spend more precious time with our families than might otherwise have been the case. And I hope you’ll agree, it doesn’t get more important than that.
About the author
Warren Lesack, Global Sales Manager Medical Devices, PRISYM ID
Warren Lesack is an accomplished global sales leader with over 20 years of sales and management experience in various industries. A U.S. Army Veteran, Warren’s work experience spans several industries including Medical Device, Hazmat, and Financial Services, all of which are heavily regulated. Warren has a proven record of implementing compliant software solutions to his clients that have helped to create efficiencies, reduce risk, and increase profitable growth.
Warren is an avid soccer fan and enjoys spending time with his family on and off the pitch or playing guitar.