As part of the ancillary nursing staff, the technician is a cover-all role for all the random and labor-intensive tasks of the emergency room. Being a tech is one of the most interesting and difficult jobs one can have and I hope you enjoy my stories from the bottom of the healthcare ladder at a busy city ER.
HIPAA: None of the names I use are those of real patients.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
My predictions were unfortunately accurate; the day after the 4th of July holiday weekend was unadulterated chaos. The waiting room had over twenty patients at any given time, the rooms and hallways were full, the center hallway was falling over itself with drunks. Great.
I was extra (unassigned), so I floated around to the critical care section, which was jam-packed with the most seriously ill patients. A new critical care patient was coming in, so I pulled Mr. Blegh, a quiet little-ol'-man (LOM) into the hallway in front of the secretary to free up his room. He was almost ready to be transported to his new room upstairs. The secretary was already besides herself with trying to move admitted patients upstairs into the wards to aid decongestion of the wing. She soon pulled strings to expedite his paperwork so I could take Mr. Blegh up myself. Mr. Blegh was polite, very diminutive, very quiet. I brought him into his room and raised the stretcher so he could climb into the hospital bed. I made sure his urinary drainage bag and IV bags were placed so he wouldn't pull on them when he moved. I began to wonder if I should have asked the nurses to come in and help move their new patient. Without warning, he said, I don't feel well, BLEGHHHHHHH. Mr. Blegh threw up copiously. Four times. Onto my pants. All over the floor. All over himself. During which, he also lost bowel control. After cleaning up, I came back downstairs to the ER and told the secretary about Mr. Blegh. "Oh, I just knew he was going to throw up. He had that look; I didn't want him to go up with just a transporter." ...... Oh well- that actually did make me feel better, since it meant that she trusted me to help Mr. Blegh if he got sick en route.
Charge nurse soon found me and put me to work in our ridiculously crowded and bs/drunk-filled triage bay. Among my favorites:
Charge to me: "We need urine on Smith."
"Will patient Smith please report to the triage desk, Smith."
A boy walks up. I'm Smith.
"Hi Mr. Smith, what's going on?"
"My stomach hurts."
"In that case, we need a urine sample."
(looks shifty and uncomfortable) "Why do you need one?"
"We want to make sure that's not what's bothering you and making you sick."
"Umm, ok, I guess I'll try, but my stomach won't let me pee."
"Oh, ok, well here's the cup in case you can." My spidey senses tingled.
Charge to me: "Actually, we need bloodwork on Smith."
"Will patient Smith report to the triage desk again, Smith."
I walked out to find him. His family says, he's not here. Where is he? The bathroom.
I sprinted into the men's room. Someone was in the stall zipping up his pants.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm here."
"We need a sample from you."
"Umm.... I was trying, see, and um.... I still can't"
He then flushes the toilet and comes out. What a sketcharoo. Then again, so am I, for following him into the men's room.
"Well, we need to draw blood from you too."
"What's the rush, man??"
"Why you so in a hurry?"
"We've got a lot of sick patients here, Mr. Smith. We work fast."
I noticed he wasn't holding his stomach or groaning, that is, until we got back to the triage desk and he startled me with a sudden gasp of agony in front of the nurse.
Ah ha. A faker. Soon after, he left without being seen.
I called her up a few times to draw labs and for a urine sample. She suddenly decided she didn't want to walk anymore and plopped down in a wheelchair, refusing to get up again. I wheeled her to her bed, at which point she got up, rubbed her behind, walked to the bed as normally as anybody and said, "dang that doggone wheelchair gave me a pain in the a** cheek!"
Stuck a q-tip too far into his ear. His was the first ear I've ever irrigated. I dislodged a large green, waxy plug occluding his eardrum. It took two rounds of blasting warm water in his ear to flush out what must have taken several years' worth of work to compact. He winked at me and said, I am ready for round 3 if you're the one doing it. Aww.
He was just sleepy. He wasn't sure why the EMT's brought him in. He felt fine, really. Alert and Oriented x4, just really groggy. We were also wondering why he came in until the EMT's mentioned alcohol. He breathalyzed .443. Holy moly! He wins for the day.