The worst code you've seen? - page 2

Hello fellow nurses - I have been a nurse now for almost 5 years, and I've seen quite a few codes. So I am wondering: what is the worst code you've seen/been involved in?... Read More

  1. 1
    Coded a post-op patient the other night in the ICU (where the nurses are supposed to be ACLS gurus). The team leader asked for the lifepak to be charged to 300 and the nurse at that station did not know how to increase the energy! A delay in defibrillation of course, and the patient did not survive. If you don't know how to do something in a code, sit back and observe at a particular station until you are 100% comfortable and competent.
    MedChica likes this.

    Get the hottest topics every week!

    Subscribe to our free Nursing Insights newsletter.

  2. 1
    A ruptured pulmonary artery...looked like a very bad crime scene...blood all over everything and everyone. sad, obviously didnt make it.
    DeLanaHarvickWannabe likes this.
  3. 10
    A 42-year-old man, husband and father of two little girls, who was a direct admit from his workplace after complaining of "a little chest pressure". Taking his medical history as I admitted him to our med/surg unit, I learned that he had the same inherited heart defect that had killed his father and his uncle at ages 51 and 48 respectively; this admission was strictly for precautionary purposes, he informed me, as he "really didn't feel all that bad".

    A co-worker and friend of mine who was taking over his care asked me to grab a telemetry monitor for him. Just as I came into the room, this red-headed, freckle-faced man who looked 10 years younger than his real age---and who'd been chatting with us only minutes before---suddenly became pale, short of breath, and profusely diaphoretic.

    "Oh please, don't let me die," he begged us as his color changed alarmingly from white to grey to purple. He grabbed my hand as if it were a lifeline and repeated his plea. "Don't let me die, I can't leave my wife and girls......."

    Naturally we both promised him that we wouldn't let him die, even though we could see we were losing him even as we ran his bed down the hall to the ICU with RT and several other nurses working on him in transit. He lost consciousness almost immediately after we got there, followed in quick succession by his pulse and BP. Meanwhile, his wife and daughters were still in the med-surg waiting room, having no idea of what was transpiring.

    We coded him for over an hour. But despite our promises, we were never able to re-establish a rhythm and he was pronounced dead, a mere two hours after feeling that "little tightness" in his chest at work. There wasn't a dry eye in that ICU after the doc called it........we all felt horrible. Even the physician and the RT were crying. Worse, we had to walk by the family on our way back to Med/Surg after it was all over; they'd been sent to wait outside the ICU and obviously hadn't yet been told that their loved one was gone. We didn't want to be around when that happened.

    That one still haunts me, years later. We had a debriefing with the social worker and hospital chaplain after that, but dang, when someone clinging desperately to his last moments of life begs you to save him......and he doesn't make it.........well, there are some nights when sleep is slow in coming and I hear that poor man's voice again, and I see the fear in his eyes and feel the terrible knowledge that my hand, and not those of his beloved 'girls', was the last comfort he received on this earth.
    *LadyNurse*, silmaril123, iluvivt, and 7 others like this.
  4. 1
    Quote from jaccimv
    A ruptured pulmonary artery...looked like a very bad crime scene...blood all over everything and everyone. sad, obviously didnt make it.
    This happened to a guy on my old medsurg floor. I wasn't there but they said when they tried to draw some labs on him before he actually coded all they got from his vein was plasma.

    The worst code I've ever been involved in was an older lady that came in with c/o abdominal pain and fevers. She had just arrived to the floor as a direct admission. A fellow nurse got her admitted and we were waiting on her MD to arrive to write orders. She was okay one minute and the boom she became unresponsive and became bradycardic. When they started compressions dead bowel projectiled out of her mouth and nose. The code didn't last long. It was really sad having to tell her granddaughter who arrived at the hospital in the middle of the code. She had dropped her grandmother off at the hospital and then went home to get her some clothes and toiletries. I have never smelled anything so awful in my life.
    DeLanaHarvickWannabe likes this.
  5. 1
    The most difficult situation I've been in is in the ICU. I was working as a tech at the time but I was still somewhat involved.

    Lady came in, 3 months postpartum, started back up on birth control.

    Boyfriend says she went to brush her teeth and feel flat on the floor. She was in full blown DIC. This was my first experience with DIC and it shocked me to see that she was bleeding from every possible hole in her body.

    She was vented, boyfriend at bedside, mom at home with their baby.

    Everything was in the toilet on her and we were just waiting for her to code. SHe was still a full code at that time.

    Luckily the boyfriend and now mom who had come in, were in their right mind and when the time came to code her, they said don't do it, just let her go.

    I come in after and see the boyfriend holding her hand at the bedside crying his eyes out with her family around her saying prayers for her as her soul went up to heaven. All the while, she still had some blood oozing out of her where some IV's were taken out already.

    I helped with postmortem care.

    Why this was so hard: she was one of us (worked at the same place).
    DeLanaHarvickWannabe likes this.
  6. 1
    When I worked in CVICU, I received a fresh case from the OR at start of shift. She was visiting from another country and ended up needing urgent CABG.She was on pressors from the start and rapidly began to lose her BP as she circled the drain.Our in house call resident was actually an anesthetic fellow, which was a problem when we had to crack her chest. He managed to do it while we waited for the surgeon and chief resident to come in from home, but in the process of giving internal cardiac massage, her pulmonary artery was ripped.Blood hit the windows behind the bed, the ceiling, and everyone involved. Of course the patient did not recover, despite a good effort. We were slipping in the blood on the floor when it was over and all had to change clothes. The family did not take the news well and had to be restrained in the waiting room but oddly enough, phoned us after midnight to ask if were true that they would not have to pay if she died within 24 hours of surgery.
    DeLanaHarvickWannabe likes this.
  7. 1
    Many years ago as a new nurse I came in for my shift which was 7p-7a @ the time and prior to completing report we had a code on a 89 year old lady, her husband stood by screaming I told them early that I did not want this the doctor just hasn't called back to modify the order, fortunately he was heard by the ER doctor and the code was stopped, needless to say the patient did not make it however the husband began to have chest pain and was rushed to the ER, and after a couple of days in the Critical Care Unit the husband survived and was discharged.
    Luckyyou likes this.
  8. 2
    I have a few:

    First was a guy who was being taken care of by a nurse who was new to the ICU. The doc had come in to perform a thoracentesis and drained an impressive amount of fluid. Shortly after this, the nurse decides to put the pt in the cardiac chair. Stood him up, the pt went orthostatic, and once they got him into the chair, was way Brady. Unresponsive. We ended up coding him, in the chair, but he didn't make it.

    We also had a 17 yo that came into the ER as a Trauma 1 that I responded to. He'd fallen off a 3 story roof, is head was split. Everytime we'd do a compression, blood and brain matter would spurt out of his head with each push. He didn't make it.

    I also had an MI who was young, in his 50's, and had 2 daughters in their mid 20s. He was inoperable. The docs said they try their best medical management, but jad given less than 6 months. The next night, after being fine all day, he suddenly did the classic AMI in the bed right in front of me. Pale, diaphoretic, cp, sob. But he had the capacity to tell us not to do anything. His daughters agreed. And he passed within 5 mins. 10 mins before this he was eating his dinner, laughing with his family.

    And I also had CABG who was high risk, came back to the unit 3 hrs late, open chest, balloon pump. Dumping as fast as we could squeeze the PRBCs in. Looking at her numbers and the bleeding and based on the OR personnel, the Doc had obviously nicked the PA! Yes, I've seen that a few times, and it is the stuff that would put the horror movies to shame.
  9. 1
    Post op AV replacement. PEA arrest, opened up the chest only to find a new ruptured aortic aneurysm/disection. Two words: RED SEA.
    DeLanaHarvickWannabe likes this.
  10. 2
    Exploding ventricle. Pretty much says it all!


Nursing Jobs in every specialty and state. Visit today and Create Job Alerts, Manage Your Resume, and Apply for Jobs.

A Big Thank You To Our Sponsors
Top