Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hard Day's Night

Last night was atrocious. It would have been manageable... had the patient census not unexpectedly swelled to forty-two, from a lowly fifteen two nights before. Oh, and we had two suicidal patients who needed to be babysat and couldn't be placed together.

Luckily, two aides from day shift volunteered to stay until 1900 with the suicides. That left me and Arthur (another aide) on the floor. For forty-two patients. That's twenty-two apiece. That is fucking ridiculous.

As soon as we saw the census, he and I went up to Catherine (charge nurse) and were like, "Yo. We claim the one-to-one's at 1900 when they leave." Then we went to work.

On those kind of nights, I don't feel overwhelmed. I get this strange sense of peace, like the one I'd imagine I'd get if I had just been shot and knew I was dying. Since there's nothing you can do about it, you might as well sit back and relax. No sense in worrying. Just keep on trekking.

The most important things to do between 1500 and 1700 are vital signs, blood sugars, and setting people up for dinner. It would be impossible to do all these things for twenty-two people in two hours. I work on a telemetry unit, keep in mind, so our average patient age is about 80. Sometimes higher. Probably 4 out of 10 patients can go to the bathroom by themselves, and about the same amount can set themselves up for dinner.

So, you know, these are the kind of nights that I expect nurses to do a little bit for themselves. Not much. I go up to them and make a deal- I'll do either vital signs or blood sugars on your patients. Which would you like to do? And do you know what my nurses did last night? Fucking nothing.

"Oh, I can't do that. I'm behind on my charting."

"Oh, sorry. I have a patient whose blood pressure is high as the sky, so I can't really take my attention away from him."

"Oh... well. You can do them still, because if they're a little late, that's all right."

Bitch, it better be all right.

All in all, I got twelve vital signs in the first hour, which is a stellar record, considering the number of bells that were going off. Between 1600 and dinner time, I took eleven blood sugars. Eleven! And not one, not two, but THREE nurses asked me "Where are my sugars?" around 1615. I hate it so much when they can't even take five minutes to get their own sugars. What took me twenty-five minutes would be about five or six minutes work between all of them.

After that, I managed to set everyone up for dinner just as the trays were being delivered, and I took my last couple of vital signs around 1830. PHEW. Then I took my dinner into one of the suicidal guys' rooms at 1900, stuffed my face, and watched TV with him until 2300. Both the supervisor and a staffer came in and begged me to stay the night, or at least until 0300. "We'll give you a bonus!"

Shiiiiiiiit. If they were offering me a McMansion and the key to eternal life, I wouldn't have stayed. I'm not looking forward to going back in tonight. Maybe they'll cancel me?

(HAHAHAHA, that last part was a joke.)

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