Tuesday, April 13, 2010

adjectives aren't gonna save you

First look nurse is officially the job from hell. You sit at the check in desk, ask people about their complaints, and ideally, see who needs to go straight back to a room immediately. Usually, though, its just sitting at a desk while the same three idiots walk up every five minutes to tell you one more reason why they really need to go back to a room STAT for their headache or abdominal pain.
At least I have the comfort of the check in form- the little piece of paper where they put in their demographic information, name and chief complaint. The things people come up with to write in the chief complaint section are hilarious. Not just because of the terrible level of literacy among our patients ("can't breath good" is a pretty common one) but the qualifying adjectives are a riot. You can tell they were well thought out- yesterday we had a lady check her daughter in because her eyes were still a little swollen after half a course of steroids. Her complaint on the form- SEVERE allergies. Severe you guys. This might require a trauma room. It's as if the patients here think that if they come up with a good enough adjective, that they won't have to sit in the waiting room with all these people. It was the same shit all night, too- the people with serious illness kept it pretty simple- but you have no idea how many forms I saw with "serious rash", "severe cough", or "abdominal pain that feels like an explosion". Listen. Just because you check in for "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad STD", doesn't mean you get to skip the 7 hour wait. It sure is entertaining when you try, though.


  1. I will agree with you. For some reason patients will use highly exaggerated verbage to describe what is going on.....and what i find, is when you tell them (I am a phone triage RN) they had better call 911....they reply "It's not THAT bad"....i just don't get it...."just the facts please! Leave the histrionic adjectives alone! You really don't need them to tell me what's going on!!"

  2. I have to say, I have just finished reading every one of your posts...and it is the most ENTERTAINING writing I have ever read...!!! You need to keep writing and eventually write a book. Keep up the good work.
    (But more than that, as an RN....you really know your stuff.Good Work!!)

  3. Thanks a bunch! It's cool reading you blog and profile, you seem to be a kindred spirit. Were I not asthmatic and cold blooded, I could very easily see myself living in Canada with my husband and a few kittehs. Look forward to reading more of your stuff.