Monday, April 17, 2006

What Happens When You Don't Get Along

Emergency Departments are full of hard-headed, stubborn, control freaks. And that's just the nurses (bet you thought I was going to say doctors, didn't you?). To be an effective ER nurse, you have to be able to make quick decisions on your feet, fight for your patients, argue with the doctors when you know you're right, and separate the real emergencies from the fake ones.You have to have a strong, confident personality.

Put 5 or 6 of us in a room together and there's going to be someone there that doesn't like someone else. And when all of you have very strong, dominant personalities ~ watch out Betty! It's gonna get a little rough.

Nurse Jane: I'm gonna run and pee real quick, watch my patient's would ya?

Nurse Mary: I ain't watchin' your patients. I've got 2 leg lacerations and a chest pain.

Nurse Jane: Damn it! I have to pee! I only have 1 ankle injury and a foreign body in the nose. Can't you take 5 seconds of your precious time and check on them while I'm emptying my bladder?

Nurse Mary: Grab a bedpan and piss in that. I am BUSY!

Nurse Jane: Where's good help when you need it?

Nurse Mary: Call rent-a-nurse. Maybe they'll help you.

Now granted, not all interactions happen this way. But there's always the possibility of butting heads in the ER. The good thing is, by the next day (or hour) it doesn't matter. It's been dropped like a fistful of needles and we're all in love again.

Dr. X: This patient needs a cardiac panel, an EKG, a CXR, a cath UA, both arms splinted, both legs sewn up, and a partridge in a pear tree ~ STAT!

Nurse Julie: Uh.....yeah. I'll get right on that.

Dr. X: I want it done and I want it done 5 minutes ago!

Nurse Julie: Uh huh. I heard ya. See me running? (As she walks slowly away)

Dr. X: (face red, shaking both fists in the air, spitting as he yells) Damn it! You must obey me! I am the doctor! I give the orders!

Nurse Julie: (looking over her left shoulder, flinging her middle finger up to push her hair over her ear) the labs and the EKG were done before you got here, the lacerations were repaired by the resident, the arms were splinted 2 minutes ago, and I hung the partridge with a noose in the pear tree and now he's dead. Any questions?

Dr. X: Well......why didn't you tell me that in the first place?

I love being surrounded by strong personalities. It amazes me the things we can get done when we work together ~ and the things we can prevent with our own stubborness. As long as we take care of the patient first and foremost, everything works out in the end.

Nurse Mary: Dr. X, I think this patient is going to crump.

Dr. X: Oh Nurse Mary - you're overreacting again. He's fine. He's just breathing a little fast and he says his back hurts.

Nurse Mary: No, Dr. X. He doesn't look right. He is going to crump and we need to get ready to intubate him now. I think he's got a triple A (AAA = abdominal aortic aneurysm).

Dr. X: Now Mary...........


Dr. X: OK Mary, let's go and check it out.

Intuition can save a patient's life and nurses and doctors all have it (or they should if they're any good). It's a good thing we're stubborn and hard-headed or we'd never trust ourselves or each other!