Yesterday I received a call from my brother, my SIL was at the ER with chest pains, abnormal EKG, with transient tachycardia and hypertension. Fearing an MI, I drove to the Level One Trauma ER ready to make sure my SIL was receiving proper care. My brother told me that her leads, oxcimeter, and O2 was off and nobody came to put it back on after they let her go to the BR. Well, I was ready for a fight b/c they treated my hubby in a similar fashion while he was having a MI - a bad one, and nobody treated him for several hours. By the time they decided I was right and he was having a MI, it was too late, and 50% of the myocardia had died. Since I was told last time not to make a fuss or they'd remove me from the ER (I hadn't even raised my voice at this point and was scared he'd die alone) So I stayed as quiet as possible, all the while asking for help. Soooo, I was ready this time! Then I walk into the ER fully ready to let someone have it but then, couldn't, wouldn't dare cause a ruckus. The place was packed. Atleast 50 patients. They were in the halls double parked and stretcher to stretcher. The cubicles were filled with people with more patients in WC's parked between. It took several minutes just to navigate through the place while I stayed out of everybodies way. It was crazy!
My SIL was in a room off the main ER area with about 8 other patients. (the area holds 4). I hooked up all her leads, O2, assessed her, etc. and calmed her.
A little ol' lady across from us had fallen and had a head injury. She was flat on her back with a collar on and was very scared and alone. All of the sudden I hear her gagging. She had emesis in her mouth and couldn't move to clear it. I yelled for help and no one came. Yelled again and no one was around. Well, I couldn't let this poor lady choke on her own vomit, so I ran over, turned her on her side, and cleared her mouth, then suctioned her till she was clear, she then smiled at me and thanked me for my help, asked me if I was a nurse. I was honest and told her I was an RN but didn't work there. She was very greatful. Still though no one came to help her or me. I thought OMG, I should've never touched that woman, but I also couldn't just leave her either..delema, what should I have done??? I moved her when she could've had a back injury! I only knew that she had fallen out of her WC and hit her head. YIKES!
So then a paramedic tech runs over to me and starts asking me if the supplies he had were what he was supposed to get. I answered and before I could tell him that I didn't work there he was running the other way. He comes back and asks where the roll gauze is located. I knew cause I had worked in that ER before, so I told him and helped him get what he needed out of the supply cart. I did tell him while I rummaged through the cart to get what he asked for, that I DON'T WORK HERE! He still came back asking for my help after that. It was like they were so bombarded that any nurse would do, even if I wasn't an employee.
I finally saw the nurse for the little ol lady and reported what I did for her and why..he thanked me too and smiled. Since I had worked with him before (at another hospital) I gave him a great big hug. My SIL had been waiting for hours to get up to her room and be admitted. I asked him to move her up and within 10 minutes she was in her room. Glad I could help her get settled. I think I wanted out of there myself more than wanting her in her room!
So we get to her room and she's telling me (my SIL) that she wants to be a nurse. I smiled and said we needed her and told her it's not like you think but I'll support you and help anyway I can. I told her to come to allnurses and read for herself. Anyway, she's in PCU on tele. I casually asked the nurse what the ratio was on the floor, she says 7 patient for each nurse! I said that's too many. Now here's what really floored me, I told her 4 patients to 1 was more like it. Her response: OH THEY CAN'T AFFORD THAT, IT WON'T HAPPEN B/C THERE ISN'T ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY ALL THOSE NURSES. This is the same hospital that will pay up to $50.00 an hour to an agency nurse to work the same area! I just about lost it but stayed quiet and smiled. It was as if she was brainwashed into believing such nonsense! This morning my SIL's BP was 70/44 and the nurse tried to give her a BP med, which I had already warned my SIL not to take pills without knowing what and why and to keep track of her BP and advocate for herself. My SIL said, OH IT WASN'T HER FAULT, SHE WAS JUST DOING WHAT SHE WAS TOLD. By then, I'm about ready to blow my top again, but just smiled and told her that it is the nurses job and responsibility to make thier own decisions based on assessment and if the nurses didn't have so many patients the almost error wouldn't have occured b/c the nurse would've had time to check the chart and then she would've known to hold the med. I know it's like this everywhere. I just had to vent. If it's this bad now, I shudder at the thought of the future. BTW, spending time in the ER makes me want to go back but this time on the clock as an employee. I think I'll pick up a few shifts. But, at the same time, I don't want to be one of those nurses who doesn't have time to be a nurse. My regular job, I'll keep, I atleast can be a nurse and not somebody who's just doing what they are told!