i had a 42 year old patient in an icu bed rotting by inches for over a year because his mommie wasn't ready to say goodbye. she threatened to sue the hospital if we respected the patient's advance directive or his stated wishes when he was able to state them -- so for more than a year we took care of this sad, sick man with intractable pain. i'm still angry about it, years later. i do not trust myself not to tell that woman exactly what i think of her should i ever encounter her outside of my work environment.
i'm also angry at the surgeon, who knew this man's wishes, knew that he basically had nothing to offer that would accomplish anything other than prolong the man's suffering, but did surgery after surgery because mommie demanded it. never once did anyone i know of hear him say to the family, "we're awfully sorry, but we've done everything we can do and archibald just isn't going to get any better. ever. the most we can do is to prolong his suffering." i don't know that it would have made a difference if he had, but he didn't even attempt it.
and we have an attending who won't speak to fat nurses except to ridicule or verbally abuse them. i'm fat. he and i don't speak to each other unless forced to. i address my comments to the team at large, and he addresses his comments to me in the form of some pretty ridiculous orders. ("stand patient up and hold him up even if he resists. do this at 11:45, 15:15 and 18.30.") this jerk will greet my husband when we're walking together, but refuse to look at or say "good morning" to me. dh thinks it's funny, which i guess is better than if he made up his mind to be upset about it. (dh is a martial arts instructor in his spare time and usually does not take insults to his wife lying down.) i get angry about it sometimes, but it's better for my health if i laugh at it instead, so that's what i try to do.
if your hospital is struck by an earthquake, are you going to save yourself if possible? or lose your life trying to save your patient who is intubated, on a balloon pump and on cvvhd? or maybe risk your life trying to save more viable patients? what about if you're the parent of a young child? the single parent of a young child?
when a blizzard blankets your city with 6 feet of snow, and your don is calling everyone at home begging them to come to work -- and you know that you have no pressing responsibilities at home (your husband is staying with your kids, your parents and pets are cared for) and you know that you could get to work because it's just a few short miles on snowshoes or by snowmobile or whatever -- do you go in? or do you refuse to answer the phone?
one of your co-workers is slurring her speech, falling asleep constantly and doesn't make sense talking. your narcotic count is off. what do you do?
i'm sure i could think of more.