Thursday, January 14, 2010

Providing accurate medical information...

I know it's hard sometimes. Just so you know for next time, though, if you can move all your extremities and walk- you are not paralyzed.
Oh, and if you're going to pretend to pass out in the cab on the way to the hospital so you don't have to pay your bill, you probably shouldn't give him your real name. Because he may give it to us, and then when you try to check in with your fake name and social so that we can't tell that you've been in the hospital a bunch of times before looking for pain meds with nothing wrong with you...yeah. We have to have that whole conversation about fraud. And that's really kind of awkward.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Saving lives, for real?

Usually when I talk about saving lives at work, I'm making some sort of joke about the people who come in for STDs and sore throats. I personally think the whole image of nurses saving tons of lives a day is a little silly. The truth is most of the people we see aren't that critical, and I don't feel that I do anything particularly special for the ones that are- I follow orders and make sure they aren't circling the drain. I think the instances in which we do save lives are when we have to look a little further into something and see something others might not.
I finally had one of those moments on Saturday. I was in triage and it was insane. I had a long line of people waiting to get triaged and this young guy checks in for rapid heart rate. We get this complaint a lot in young people and about 99.9% of the time it's total bullshit- rapid heart rates of 83. I'm thinking the same thing with this guy automatically- I put the oximeter on his finger and the heart rate pops up as 60. Something just told me to check a radial pulse- when it did it, it felt... wrong. So I get my stethescope and listen to him. It sounds weird. I hook him up to the EKG machine- holy crap. He's in atrial fibrillation with a heart rate of 180. We got him back to a trauma room and he never converted to a normal rhythm, but they at least got his heart rate down a little bit and got him admitted. I don't think I saved his life necessarily, but I'm glad I didn't settle for the vitals that popped up and send him back to the waiting room!