Saturday, April 14, 2007


I wish we could do this

I soooooo wish we could set up our ER like this! But of course, in our ER, we would have to change the doors to simply clean and dirty. I realize that as an ER, our patient load has an over representation of the lower socio-economic groups, and that the area served by our hospital borders on Appalachia. And I remember from nursing school that different cultural groups have different expectations about things, including hygiene.

But still, come on people if you know that you are going to see a doctor, and you have the strength and/or energy (I can make an exception in cases of sudden injury or severe illness), do everyone a favor and wash!

It never ceases to amaze me the wonderous, olfactory experience that a day at work is. The majority of the smells come from just general, old fashioned BO, some of it older than others. This I have learned to simply tune out. I have also become pretty good at ignoring the smells of the bedside commodes/bedpans (except in cases of GI bleeds, those are a whole different animal).

Then there are the smells that I don't think I will ever get used to. The first is the smell of necrotic (dead and rotting) tissue. Last week, I had a necrotic foot ulcer. It took some major willpower to get down there close to it so that I could do an assessment. The patient tried to tell me that it developed since the last doctor's appointment, but there is no way you get that much rotted flesh in 10 days.

The other smell that I almost could not deal with was the smell of what I affectionately referred to as "Kentucky Fried Foot". I had a patient come in at 0100 saying that they spilled a pan of grease on their foot. Appearantly, they had been frying chicken and they decided to dump out the pan in their bare feet, and spilled it all over their foot. Judging from the barely pink look of their foot, I'm guessing the grease was pretty much cooled. Of course, behaviorally, you would have thought that there were third degree burns all over their whole foot. Of course, the foot was not washed before coming to the ER, so the whole area smelled like fried chicken. Again, it was a real test of will to get down close to assess that fried foot.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Don't worry nurses, I get you

I found this image to be rather amusing. As we all know, a nurse in doubt should always consult his/her "readily" (and I use that word losely) available reference materials on his/her unit, and/or the unit's policies and procedures. Appearantly, where this nurse works, those materials are kept in another building, somewhere on a wind swept moor. And you thought tracking down the drug book at the nurse's station was annoying. Imagine having to put on your cape ever time you needed it.

The title of this entry is a direct quote from my hospital's chief of police during a talk he gave during our nurse education days. He said that he is married to a nurse, so therefor he has an understanding of what makes nurses tick. This got me to thinking about whether or not nurses are any different than any other group of professionals.

The answer that I came up with was a resounding "Yes". I also think that nurses in specific work areas are very different than nurses in other work areas. Personally, I can't imagine working anywhere other than a emergency room. There is just something about the barely controlled chaos, the unrelenting urgency, the collisons with coworkers at every corner, the constant interuptions, etc. that keeps me going. The idea of working on a floor, or worse, in a clinic setting, makes me want to run screaming for the hills (not that I don't appreciate those nurses or their skills, just not the place for me).

I think the best evidence that I have that I should be an ER nurse happened just after New Year's. In our current department, our trauma room opens directly into our kitchen area. Since we do not have a break room at the moment, if you want to grab a quick bite during your shift, you have to do it in the kitchen. One Sunday night, I was eating my lunch in the kitchen (since the cafeteria was closed at that point) while we had a patient come into the trauma room in full arrest. Since the rest of the department was pretty slow, a number of us were standing in the doorway watching and/or being available to help during the code. I calmly stood there eating my lunch while the code went on. Another nurse saw this and said, "You are a true ER nurse if you can eat during a code". But then again, I was not the only one doing it either.......

It's things like that which convince me that us nurses are a special group of people. We have a........... unique sense of humor, and general view of life. The more different nurse's blogs I read, the more I realize that we nurses just are not quite "right", and most of us would not have it any other way!

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