Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Dead Ones

You really shouldn't deliver dead people to the ER. There's not a whole heck of a lot we can do for them. Above all, you should not deliver dead people to the ER when a brand new attending and a brand new nurse are on duty. This is not a good combination.

Billy Bob's family pulled up into the ER bay - well, came screaching in sideways with smoke coming from their brakes would be a more accurate description. Billy Bob's brother jumped out of the truck. "OH MY GOD MY BROTHER IS DEAD!" he screams as he runs into the waiting area. "He's dead, he's dead, he's dead! HELP HIM!" he yells at Dr. S, grabbing him by the front of his scrubs.

"Ummmm............. OK", Dr. S replies. (This is where you can see me rolling my eyes and heading off to lunch. I'm a cold hearted bitch sometimes)

You know how stories grow as they get passed on to new people? They grow and develop a completely different storyline than what actually happened? I'm not so sure that's not what happened here. This story took on a life of it's own (no pun intended of course).

So Newbie Nurse runs out to the ambulance bay with Dr. S. Dr. S proceeds to open the back door of the Mercedes and comes face to face with Stone Cold Stiffy. Stiff as a board (coincidentally, not light as a feather), sitting upright in the back seat. Hands curled under his cheek as if he's daydreaming.

Dr. S touches him. No response. "Uh, Dr. S, I think he's dead," Newbie says. (ya think? He's stiff.)

Dr. S checks his carotid and says in a surprised voice "He doesn't have a pulse." (figured that one out all by yourself, did ya?)

Dr. S makes his first big mistake - "Bring him on in to the trauma bay" he says.

"Seriously?" Newbie replies.

"Yes, seriously. Bring him in."

"Shouldn't we just call the police or the funeral home or......?"

"Absolutely not" Dr. S replies. "We'll bring him in and hook him up."

"H....h....hook....h...him....up-p?" Newbie stutters. "But he's dead"

"He's not dead until I say he's dead" Dr. S replies

OK, now do we believe this? Not sure - but it makes for a great story. Dr. S is a bit of .......... well, that's better left unsaid. Newbie, bless her heart, obeys him. She's sweet and unsullied - naive to the ways of ER nurses. "Um...OK" she says. Um..........OK my ass. My reply would have been somewhere along the lines of the following:

"You wanna bring the dead guy in Dr S, feel free. I'm not wasting anyones time hooking up some obviously cold, stiff, and dead guy to the cardiac monitor to prove he's dead. He's dead. He aint' moving (insert poke to guys head here). Call the cops or the funeral director. Hell, call the national guard. I don't care. I'm going back in to take care of the guy who's on the verge of crumping in room 3. When you feel the need to grace the ER that is full of sick patients with your presence, just let me know. But I'm not BRINGING IN THE DEAD GUY!"

"Um, OK" sounds so much nicer, doesn't it?

Anyway, they bring Mr. Stiffie into the trauma bay, proceed to hook him up (by the way, he's in complete rigor so he is still in a sitting position) and discover that he is in (everyone gasp here) asystole. Duhn duhn duhn.

Quick! Shock him! (SNORT - this isn't Lifetime Movie Network people. Here at ERTV we don't shock asystole - we give 'em a thump on the chest and they'll magically convert to sinus rhythm!)

Dr. S heads out to have a family conference and Newbie covers Mr. Stiffie with a sheet and calls the morgue. Charts are started, dictation is completed. Resources are wasted.

Did this really happen?

The only truth I know is I saw a sheet shaped an awfully lot like someone with their knees in the air being wheeled to the morgue as I returned from lunch. You learn not to ask questions.


MandyHamm said...

OH MY GOD...too funny! Happy belated Christmas and Happy NEw Year to you!

ERnursey said...

I used to work at an ER out in east sticks. There was a local board and care home that used to call an ambulance for their dead bodies. The ambulances were all volunteers and had to start CPR. One day they came in with a code. The lady had been in a chair for awhile obviously and was in rigor, she was laying on the stretcher with her legs up in the air, still in seated position.