A day in the life of Dr. Alan Rudick, D.O., isn’t always 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Often, he is at Mercy Medical Center at the crack of dawn and doesn’t go home until he is through, which could be 9 or 10 p.m., depending on patient needs.
Rudick specializes in pulmonology, critical care and sleep medicine.
BEGINNING TO END
The doctor said his day starts early and usually ends late because that is what it takes to ensure the care of his patients.
“I usually get here about 7 a.m. and work until I am done,” he said. “Our focus is basically multidisciplinary. Our group (Pulmonology & Critical Care Physicians) is in charge of the intensive care units at the hospital, mainly the medical ICU, but we also see people in the coronary care unit and special care unit, in addition to doing patient consults on every floor of the hospital.”
Rudick also sees patients in his office. His day starts with patients in the critical care units, then he does his follow-up visits to patients in the hospital.
“I see patients in the office every day except on days I am on long call where I see all the intensive care consults and all the consults from overnight. It is a pretty busy day.”
He goes to the sleep lab in the evening to read reports.
“Our sleep lab does full studies and handles children, adolescents and adults,” he said. “We diagnose a multitude of things, including patients who act out their dreams, raid the refrigerator at night and not remember, even those who have seizures, not just sleep apnea.”
The lab has six beds at Mercy and another four at the hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center in the Mercy Health Center of Jackson building.
When sleep studies are done in the lab, most of the time patients were referred by doctors to diagnose sleep apnea, said Rudick. There are two basic types of sleep apnea, he said. Obstructive sleep apnea is when air cannot flow in or out of the person’s nose or mouth, and central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send a message to the breathing muscles to breathe.
In either case, the majority of doctors send patients to the lab for sleep apnea, but there are other reasons for sleep studies.
“There are a variety of other things we look for in the sleep lab,” he said. “People complain of insomnia, which is a very common disorder that we see patients for; abnormal behaviors during the night; people acting out their dreams; and seizures. A lot of times, people don’t know these things are going on.”
He said people dream during REM sleep, during which there are rapid eye movements (REM), and skeletal muscles are paralyzed so people cannot act out their dreams. However, one of the disorders sleep specialists look for is REM sleep disorder, which causes people to act out their dreams.
“It can be dangerous,” he said.
Other sleep disorders include restless leg syndrome, sleepwalking and snoring.
“Sleep-related breathing disorders is my passion,” Rudick said. “It is one of the newer disciplines in medicine. Pulmonary medicine and medicine in general have been around for centuries. Sleep disorders are relatively new as a clinical discipline.”
But, he said, his group is a full-service group and sees all the disorders that constitute a pulmonary office—“people with COPD, people with pneumonia, people with asthma, people with congestive heart failure”— people with respiratory failure for whatever reason.