Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oblivious People or Why Call Bells Should Not Always be Within the Patient’s Reach

For the most part, I try my darndest to be super-duper nice to old people. After all, it’s not a pleasant experience to be an adult relying on others for your basic bodily functions. However, when a call bell is placed at your side in the EMERGENCY department (you know, where life threatening emergencies are treated), this does not mean that it should be used incessantly for trivial concerns such as, “I need another pillow”, “my blanket crinkled again”, “when can I get the next dose of peccocet/morphine/dilaudid” (after the medication schedule has been explicitly explained in great and painfully accurate detail several times) or “I need to use the bathroom” (when you’re perfectly capable of using your walker/wheelchair without assistance).

I had the most irritating shift because of one such elderly lady. She had a fall at home and sprained her ankle. However, due to other social issues, she was awaiting a placement at a nursing home. Every 20 minutes she would ring the call bell – incessantly. I helped her eat her breakfast, I changed her bedding twice, I got her a soft mattress so her back wouldn’t be sore and I even set her up for a bed bath! Yet despite all of my efforts to do right by her while juggling 5 other patients (one of whom was actively hallucinating and almost sucker punched me while the other kept screaming “BELIEVE in the Lord” with 8 mg Haldol on board) she just would NOT stop using the call bell. At one point, I had to pry the damn wire out of her clammy, Kleenex stuffed hands and tell her that she is NOT in a hotel and I am NOT her wait-staff. She just stared uncomprehending at me for so long that I thought she had a damn stroke. Rather, she just could not understand the concept of no. Then of course her children had to come and try to boss me around (where the fuck were all of you when mommy needed to be lifted 50 times??) by barging into OTHER patients’ rooms! By the end of that shift, I could barely contain the deluge of profanities aching to break free from my mouth.

As I write this post, my blood pressure is substantially lower than what it was during the course of that shift, my back ache has been greatly relieved by ward stock ibuprofen and I realize that there were moments (more like hours) during which I was excessively bitchy, but during the course of the shift, I would have liked to do nothing less than to utilize PFT* for this patient and her family.

*PFT = Pillow to Face Therapy. Another term coined by our crazy residents and crazier senior nursing staff.


Mar's Bar said...

lol, im sure its not just old people who are crazy and needy (your sister is too)

Christine said...

PFT= LOL I may need to steal that! Nice one!

Sisterhood of the formerly married said...

You're baaaaaaaaad !!

PFT*...sounds like a "screen test"*** to me.


CxJvak said...

Having just left Med-Surg for the ER, I appriciate this post.

CxJvak said...

Thanks, not falling on deaf ears. ;)

sara said...

lol ... i can sadly relate, although its usually my mistake in thinking a patient can understand what the purpose of the call bell is for. i just LOVE going into a patient's room every 5 minutes to try to explain to them in overzealous hand gestures (since i don't speak their language) which button is for me and which button is for the TV.

Ezra said...

So, I do not really think this will work.
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