Showing posts from 2007

Take a Guess: Which one do you think is telling the truth?

Patient number 1 is a early 40ish man with no medical history that comes in from his job at a construction site where he suffered a sudden onset of right flank pain. Driven in by a co-worker he is barely able to walk in, hunched over, pale, sweaty, diaphoretic, writhing on the gurney, tachycardic and hypertensive. Shortly after getting to triage he starts vomiting. During triage he seems apologetic when he rates his pain a "7 or 8." Patient number 2 is a twenty something who is brought in from the parking lot in a wheelchair by a friend, they are laughing and talking on their cell-phones when you bring him in for triage. Chief complaint is a twisted ankle. Despite apparently being able to walk to the car at home he is now unable to walk and has to be brought into triage in a wheelchair. In triage his skin is pink, warm and dry and vitals are normal. He rates his pain a "12." Patient number 1 is given Toradol and Compazine IV and has complete relief of his pain. He i

R Privacy Issues

Let's face it, ER's are crowded and noisy. Despite our best attempts to maintain a patients privacy, when the next patient is six feet away with only a thin curtain between them, it is hard not to over hear what is going on next to you. One night we had an elderly gentleman in curtain area 1 and next to him a prim, middle aged lady. The PA was trying to explain to the man what his diagnosis was but his efforts were being hampered by the fact that the man was very hard of hearing. The problem was something of a personal nature so the PA was trying to be discreet. PA: Sir, you have pubic lice PT: What's that you say? PA: I said you have pubic lice. PT: What? PA: You've got lice down there PT: Can't hear you son, you have to speak up PA: I SAID YOU HAVE BUGS DOWN THERE PT: Oh. Of course we all overheard the conversation, including the prim lady in the next cubicle, who was red as a beet by now. The ER staff, dignified until the end, were draped across the counters shak

Medication reconciliation

Do you think medication reconciliation works in the ER? Giggles comes in from home. She lives alone with a caregiver that comes three times a week but didn't accompany her to the hospital. She is a very vague historian, has no clue what med's she takes or what pharmacy she gets them from. She gives me her physicians name so I put in a call to his office. Three calls and much time on hold later I finally get in touch with the medical assistant who is finally able to tell me that the patient is not theirs. Close to 45 minutes wasted and still no clue what medications she is on. He last hospital record is from three years ago and she was admitted by the hospitalist then. I could start randomly calling pharmacies but there are 39 of them in the area and that would take hours. Nice mid sixties gentleman comes in with Chest Pain. He knows he takes a blood pressure pill, a water pill and something for his sugar, not the names or the dosages. He gets his med's through the mail from

Rules for non-bedside nurses

We are very concerned about the nursing shortage in America, if the paperwork nurses actually did some nursing, no shortage would exist. 1. Nurses that do not provide direct patient care on a daily basis should not develop policies for nurses that do. (Have you ever noticed how the policies for your nursing practice are written without any input from the people who have to carry out the policies?) 2. Nurses that do not provide direct patient care on a daily basis should not develop forms for nurses that do. (that way a nurse won't have to waste her time putting the VS on the flow sheet and the graphics form and a report sheet etc. etc. etc.) 3. Nurses that do not provide direct patient care on a daily basis should not represent nurses that do in any advertising portraying them as bedside nurses. If you don't do the job, you don't get to claim the glory. ( I don't know about you but I've never seen any of the people who are portrayed as nurses at my hospital or they


A pet peeve for many is the fact many hospitals are filthy. Housekeepers often come from contracted services that provide the lowest amount they can get away with and pay them minimum wage with no benefits. The turnover is stupendous and they have no incentive at all to do a good job. Sure, the center hall is buffed to a glossy finish but the patient rooms aren't wiped down every day, curtains aren't changed, walls not wiped and high dusting not done. All those areas are teaming with bacteria. ER's are the worst. The gurney and surfaces wiped quickly by the RN in between patients but the rooms are cleaned well only once daily, if that. Pull our the gurney and look at what is under it. No wonder hospital acquired infections are rampant. That should be the first thing looked at when a hospitals infection rates go up, how many housekeepers are one person responsible for covering three units? I think housekeeping services need to be hospital b