Lessons from the ER

Here are a few of the things I have learned from my patients over the last few months:
~ Slamming your finger in the doorknob side of the door hurts. Slamming it in the hinge side of the door will take your fingertip right off.
~ Texas football fans are insane. Our ER is dead during any big football game, college or professional. An hour after the game, we get slammed with the kids who should have been brought in several hours earlier.
~ An untreated ear infection can lead to brain surgery.
~ An untreated cavity can lead to an ICU admission.
~ Some parents will choose buying cigarettes over buying their child’s asthma medications. The result? The cigarettes can trigger an asthma attack, and there will not be any rescue medication available..
~ When making up lies for how their child was injured, parents usually forget to take into consideration their child’s developmental age. A one-month old is not going to roll off of the bed and break her femur.
~ ER rooms can somehow become cursed for the day. On my last shift, every patient who was sent to room #6 ended up being sent to the ICU. Ashley, another intern, had two patients in room #1 get intubated. Some days every patient in a certain room will have the same condition- seizures, vomiting, etc.
~ Partially or completely amputated fingertips do not bother me. But cuts on the fingers slightly deeper than paper cuts? They make my stomach drop.
~ I desperately need to learn Spanish.
~ Popsicles have more healing power than Bandaids.
~ Ariel is the most popular Disney character.
~ When siblings are present, it is important to let them know that their brother/sister is going to be ok. If you fail to do this, you will quickly have two screaming children to take care of.
~ The most important thing you can say to a child when you first enter the room carrying something is, "This is not a shot."
~ Unless you are actually carrying a shot.
~ When you find out that one of your patients has died, such as my little cardiac baby from a few months ago, you have to make yourself move on. This is much easier said than done.
~ The best cure for an infant with constipation? Taking a rectal temperature. It seems to unintentionally work way too often.

12 thoughts on “Lessons from the ER

  1. Hi Katie! Next Friday the first semester is over…..1/4 of the way through. It went fast! Monday is the nursing final, all the info in the good ole Potter and Perry book but I\’m comfortable with all but the electrolyte/fluid balance part, but having help tomorrow. They kind of left it up to us to learn it….oh joy.  This has been an experience and have met many neat people.  Sounds like you have a job at a place you really enjoy doing what you do best….I am so happy for you Nurse Katie RN!

  2. Your grasp of the situation is enlightening. The room thing is especially true, somedays you dread looking around the corner…Thanks for writing me back on my blog.Glad you still have a preceptor to fall back on. My orientees know they can pick my brain anytime…Hopefully there\’s enough graymatter left for me to function……..Nurse Bill

  3. What a great list!  It\’s too bad you had to add the lying parents/broken femur one in there… and the cigarettes/asthma one…  What are these people thinking? 

  4. Good Lessons to learn for us all!! I think the best lesson I learned..and Boy did I learn it fast…Eat, Eat, Eat. Never work the ER on an empty stomach..and don\’t let your stomach get empty. Why? Cause I will puke for sure if a bloody trama comes in!! BARF!!!

  5. Gosh, I miss reading your adventures!!! Love the "prolapsed rectum" story. Priceless!!
    And I\’m already paranoid about my cavities – I\’m quite sure I have bacterial endocarditis, and an actinomyces abscess in my lungs, next to an anaerobic abscess. Oh, and possibly some osteomyelitis in my jaw. (I\’m kidding… kind of…)
    it\’s amazing how something like a cavity can cause some major problems, but, really, unless you have insurance, how can someone pay out of pocket for dental care? Crazy.
    Oh!! And cool Spanish pocket guide: "Rapid Rescue Spanish" by Paul Maxwell. I use it in clinic and it really helps. 🙂

  6. I love some of your lessons (and others are a little bit horrible! Waiting for the end of a football game?! Just horrible!)
    Popsicles are great healers, especially for mouth injuries. The taste great AND numb.
    So true about the shots!
    When my cousin\’s baby had constipation, that was their trick. Rectal thermometers. They would take her temperature and pull out a little bit extra with the thermometer! Kind of gross…
    😉 Michele

  7. Hey Katie!  I\’m glad you\’re back!  It was all interesting, but I was struck by the lying parents.  It breaks my heart knowing there are parents like that out there.  One of my professors was a social worker in an emergency room, it sounds like it was an intense experience.I have this nurse at my doctor who is really awkward (and clearly still in training), and whenever I get frustrated, I think about how hard you worked to be so successful.  I realize that she just hasn\’t hit her groove yet, she\’s probably super stressed over school and reading, and being testy or rude would just make her life harder!  So I thank you for sharing your point of views and your experiences!  🙂  I definitely think twice before being rude to health care workers (or anyone for that matter!)…

  8. I\’m not surprised one bit about your ER lessons.  I\’ve sat in the ER one too many times and unfortunately overheard some bizarre excuses/comments/stories that left me shaking my head or re-evaluating my priorites in life.  I\’m so sorry to hear about your little cardiac patient. 

  9. Since I was not around medical facilities, nor in a big city, and grew up in an era of silence, it was long before I learned the viciousness of some parents.  A slut here just killed the most beautiful child of 5 with a vicious blow to the stomach; he died slowly and painfully.  They are seeking the death penalty, and while I have been opposed to the death penalty since I found out how frequently poor innocent men were sentenced to death, I gotta say in this case I would pull the switch – or administer the injection or whatever they do; I suppose stoning is out.   People don\’t grasp how worthless some parents are – they get all gooey at the very word \’Mom\’.  As if being too slovenly to take your birth control pills was somehow an accomplishment.  Good parents are awesome, but there are far more of the other kind than people realize or want to believe.  I have known three women who killed their kids.  One with a baseball bat.  In defense of the Texan parents who would rather watch football than save their kids, if these kids survive they will only grow up to be more Texans. 

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