Quote from LalaJJB
My question is: If a patient is in respiratory distress, what do I do especially if the MD is nowhere to be found and my RN co-workers are busy with their patients? I’m new and I don’t want people to die on my watch.
Thankfully for this patient, she got an ICU room before her breathing got too bad. She was also perfusing fine and her O2 sats were reasonable if she wasn’t doing anything. I’m just scared for when I get a patient who is in respiratory failure and I have nobody to turn to. PLEASE HELP ME!!
You needed a doctor, an RT, and another nurse or a tech in the room with you. That you were alone with this critically ill patient who needed interventions beyond your scope of practice and level of training and experience is really at the crux of the matter.
Remember, airway, breathing, and circulation in that order. She had a patent airway, but was not ventilating (breathing) effectively because of the lack of red blood cells (circulation). Your priority interventions are to put her on NRB and get that blood transfusion going *yesterday*!
Do you guys have lab techs/phlebotomy services? If so, get a lab tech in there to get your type and cross. If not, get a tech or another nurse in there to help you get the sample and get it to the blood bank as quickly as possible. If you can get the sample with an IV start, great, but you've already got a patent IV, so hang a liter and keep that line open! Use what you've got! Getting some more fluid in her might help find a vein for better peripheral access, and it will help if the doctor decides to place a central line. Warm her up with some blankets to help those veins pop up. Gather your supplies for the blood transfusion; blood tubing, a pump, a mini bag of saline, any consent forms you need, so that you can start the transfusion the moment the blood is ready.
While you're doing these things, continue to monitor for s/s of deterioration and be ready for RSI.
Edited to add: Sats in the mid 90s on 4L NC, HOB at 90 degrees, anxiety and feeling of dyspnea, does not paint a picture of someone who is perfusing just fine! Do not be afraid to put the NRB on someone like this. If she is a retainer, you can fix that later. She needs more O2 now. It's no different from someone with a cardiac history who is in septic shock. You will still aggressively fluid resuscitate, and worry about fluid overload later.