There was the night I was 007. I'm still a legend on that unit and I've not been on that floor in four years.
The first death was expected. The patient had terminal cancer and was a favorite of everyone on the floor. Young man, baby girl at home. He'd survived childhood ALL only to end up with head and neck CA as an adult, probably from the full body XRT he'd received as part of his chemo regimen. Early in the morning, around 0100, he passed away, all of his family around him - it was awful. The MD actually helped me get this pt ready for the morgue, helped with the paperwork and the phone calls, the whole bit. (He's an attending now and is still a wonderful MD - has a mom who's a nurse so he was raised right!)
So the charge RN comes down around 0430 to get updates on my remaining patients. The lab tech is coming around the floor and stops at one of my pt's rooms and comes back out - this pt has a port-a-cath and lab can't draw from central lines. "Okay," I said, "just leave the vials on the door and I'll get them in a few minutes." (This was pretty much what the techs would do - they'd tape the little baggies to the window on the door and then we'd go and draw the labs.)
So I finished my updates with the charge nurse, during which time this patient, whose door had been left open by the lab tech, was playing with either a straw or a plastic knife on the tray table and it was very disturbing. The Charge RN got up and spoke to him ("I'm just gonna pull your door shut, ok, Mr. X?") and he nodded his head and the charge RN closed the door. (This guy was lucid, A&Ox4, the whole bit - St IV SCLC - isn't it funny how you can remember dx?) The charge RN and I talked for no more than two or three more minutes, and she left.
Okay - so this is what happened next: I had five patients, not counting the earlier death. I stood up from the table, got my stuff to draw Mr. X's labs and put it in my pocket (keep in mind the supply pyxis was literally right in front of me, so that took probably all of five minutes), rounded on my other four patients (stuck my head in the door - are they breathing - everything good - maybe ten minutes?), and then knocked on Mr. X's door. I got no answer - not really a surprise - and slipped into the room and turned on an unobtrusive light.
"Mr. X? I'm here to get your labs."
"Mr. X?" And I tapped him and that's when I realized he was dead. Well, I thought he was - I pulled out my stethoscope - nothing. (Putting your steth to a soundless chest is almost creepy in a way.) Holy crap.
I snuck outside the room - pulled down the chart box - confirmed he was DNR for my own sanity - pulled his door shut - went and found the doctor from earlier and told him my tale of woe.
His response? "You're &*#$ing me."
Well, I wasn't.
So after we checked him (and God bless this MD, the first words out of his mouth were, "I'll call donor services if you'll call the morgue"), I went and told the charge RN.
"Mr. X just passed."
No kidding - night shift offgoing charge AND day shift oncoming charge BOTH SAID AT EXACTLY THE SAME TIME "You're ^&$*ing me." And I answered, "Is EVERYONE going to say that when I tell them this?"
My best friend is still on this unit (I was civilian at the time) and this story is apparently still being passed around...I've even been introduced as, "This is Carolinapooh, she's the one who's 007" to RN's I've never met before who now work there....