Saturday, August 2, 2008

Surrounded by Incompetence

Lately, I’ve been noticing that there are some people who don’t do their jobs properly. By itself that statement really is not an earth shattering observation but it really irritates and scares me when NURSES don’t do their jobs properly. Several days ago, I was working (yet another) night shift when I noticed a little old lady hunched over in a commode chair beside her bed. I immediately had a funny feeling about her even though she was not my patient and went to take a look at her. She was blue. As in, ‘I can’t breathe so I’m about to give up and die’ blue. I stuck the nasal prongs on, blasted the oxygen to 100%, pressed the call button, grabbed a vital sign machine and started taking her vitals which were 36.4-117-8-67%-165/94. Not Good. She was going into respiratory arrest and she was left alone. I had another nurse come to help me out with this patient and she told me to find out who this lady’s nurse is for the night and to call the critical care team immediately for a desating possible resp arrest. I called the team first and then informed the patient’s nurse who became quite irate with me. She told me that since I’m not licensed yet, I really shouldn’t tell her how to take care of her patients. Fair enough. But this lady is BLUE! When the critical care team arrived, this nurse peaked in for a minute to tell them the woman’s age and admitting diagnosis – information that was right in front of the team leader. She then proceeded to pour out drugs and to help someone else to the bathroom leaving the critical care team alone. I could not believe that this was happening! I realize I don’t have a license but I do know the basics of prioritization – not breathing takes priority over brushing teeth before bed! In the end, this woman was transferred to the ICU for closer monitoring and she recovered.

Yet another example of incompetence in the work place happened just two nights ago. I had to leave my night shift early because I had to go to school for an early morning exam that didn’t count for any marks. That’s just another rant. When I woke up from my slightly extended nap, I gathered up the sheets to throw them back in the laundry when I saw another nurse wheeling supplies over to the unit to help out with the 5 o’clock train. I said good morning to her and she said the same to me. That’s when I looked into the room that BOTH of us were passing by and saw my new admission from the night lying on the floor in a puddle of blood and urine moaning in pain. My reaction was to drop the pile of sheets I was carrying and rush to this man’s help. This nurse’s response was to ignore it so completely that I thought I missed something. She just left on her merry way. Again, I’m not licensed, but finding an elderly man in a pool of blood is something to be concerned about. He was admitted for falls due to seizures so before I went to take my break, I told him to ring the call bell if he wanted to get out of bed so someone would be with him and he could avoid breaking his ass. Being a sweet old guy that he was, he decided to not cause us trouble for a mere bathroom trip so he didn’t use the bell and he was ambulating by himself. Of course he fell and ended up with a scalp lac nearly 5 inches in length and while waiting on the floor for help, he wet himself. I wish I could have stayed with him because he really was a sweet old guy but unfortunately, all I had time to do was to help him back to bed, apply pressure to his wound and call the ER doc for stitches. I shudder to think what would have happened if I wasn’t there to see him because the oblivious nurse probably would not have thought to call someone over for help.

So the lesson of this post: no matter what you do, do it properly. If you’re a nurse, please don’t leave your patients blue and bleeding. That’s atrocious practice and makes you look like an incompetent idiot. If you don’t know what to do, call for help! Please don’t let your ego get in the way of someone’s health.

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