Epic (Nursing) FAILS!

by VivaLasViejas Guide

Like any good team member, nurses come to work with our game face on: ready to run hard, field phone calls, intercept doctors, and run interference for our patients. Here's what happens when we play like we left our heads behind in the locker room.

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    Epic (Nursing) FAILS!

    I once destroyed a patient room within five minutes of starting my shift.

    It was fortunate that the two ladies who occupied the semi-private room were AA & O and had a sense of humor. You have to know your shift is going to be a bad one when you walk into a room and trip over someone's catheter, then dump a custard in the other patient's lap. As an encore, you then open a cabinet, and 500 little paper cups fall onto your head. Then, after you've retrieved them all and stand up, you forget the door is still open and thump your cranium so soundly that you see stars and go sprawling on your posterior. The cups wind up on the floor again.....and in the meantime, two very concerned women are peering at you over the counter. And YOU'RE supposed to be taking care of THEM.

    A good friend of mine was a champion IV starter who could get a line in a rutabaga if it needed one. One day after several of us tried without success to stick this 400-lb. patient with an active case of DTs and no palpable veins, we called Anna in to try to locate something so we could get some meds on board. Bless her, she got a 20g in the cephalic vein on her very first try and flushed the line.....but then she got all bollixed up in the tape while trying to secure the site. She must've had a yard of the stuff wrapped around her fingers. She couldn't pull it loose, and no one else in the room could help her because we were using all our muscle power to hold the patient down while the nursing supervisor and the tech were trying to buckle him into four-points. "Tape is our friend," Anna quipped.

    Speaking of tape: regardless of purpose or design, there are only two kinds of medical tape---1) that which will not stick, and 2) that which will not come off. I was a Med/Surg tech back in nursing school days who was allowed to D/C everything but a central line, and I went into one room to take out a saline lock for a patient who was going home. She was a frail elderly lady with extremely thin skin, only I didn't know HOW thin until I took the op-site off.........and took the entire top layer of skin with it. To say the least, I was horrified and began to apologize profusely for the awful thing I'd done. The patient herself merely shrugged. "Oh, for goodness sake, it's just skin!" she admonished. "I can grow more---it happens every time."

    (That was when I learned the trick of removing the skin from the tape instead of removing the tape from the skin.......there really is a difference in techniques, and I've never ripped another single layer of parchment paper that serves some elderly folks as skin ever since.)

    Then there was the time I nearly got written up for multiple patient complaints. It was one of those full-moon August weekend nights that are just ripe with possibilities......if you're looking for trouble, that is. As it was, I didn't know if things happened the way they did because I was on my fourth consecutive 12-hr shift, but I couldn't help being goofy......I found myself snickering at every silly thing that happened that night, and I'd already infected several of my co-workers with the giggles as well.

    Anyway, an LPN and I were working together in one room, changing a patient's soiled linens and cleaning him up while trying not to wake him totally, when I backed into an enormous flower arrangement and sent it crashing to the floor. That made his roommate wake up and swear, stringing profanities together in such creative combinations that it struck me as absolutely hilarious, and I broke up.

    I am NOT quiet when I laugh, and when you get my mad cackling going on in the hallway of a hospital at three in the morning, suffice it to say that patients aren't going to be amused, and neither is the nurse manager. The only thing that saved me from a written reprimand was a few quotes from the gentleman I'd awakened with my klutz du jour
    performance; I guess the NM figured a good cussing-out was punishment enough!

    These are a few of my more memorable nursing FAILS. How about sharing some of yours?
    Last edit by Joe V on Apr 24, '12
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  4. About VivaLasViejas

    VivaLasViejas is a fiftysomething R.N. and writer from the West Coast who directs the health services department for a large assisted living community.

    VivaLasViejas joined Sep '02 - from 'The Great Northwest'. Age: 55 VivaLasViejas has '17' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'LTC, assisted living, geriatrics, psych'. Posts: 24,581 Likes: 33,350; Learn more about VivaLasViejas by visiting their allnursesPage


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    (That was when I learned the trick of removing the skin from the tape instead of removing the tape from the skin.......there really is a difference in techniques, and I've never ripped another single layer of parchment paper that serves some elderly folks as skin ever since.)
    Please share your "trick".

    Also, if it makes you feel better, when I was in nursing school, I had a night shift clinical. Every week, I got the giggles. I don't think giggling should be a punishable offense. At the hospital I currently work, I heard about a night shift nurse's aid who set off a bed alarm in an empty room several times in one night just so he could jump out and scare the nurses who would come running. Needless to say, the nurse screamed loudly. This is a punishable offense and was indeed punished, harshly.
    nrsang97, teeniebert, KSRN2b, and 2 others like this.
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    The tape "trick" is simply to use your finger to push the skin away from the tape while holding the tape instead of holding the skin and pulling the tape off. Or, if it's easier to think of it differently, removing the skin from the tape and not the tape from the skin. It feels better for the patient most of the time. Also, if they are hairy, you can wipe the tape and skin w/alcohol to break the adhesive down and not pull as much.
    marda, Flare, annietart, and 6 others like this.
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    Funny stuff Viva - loved it!
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
  8. 17
    Quote from CrunchRN
    Funny stuff Viva - loved it!
    Thanks! They didn't call me the "Nocturnal Stumblebutt" for nothing We won't even talk about the time I slipped and fell twice in the same shift.....in the same room......with the hospital VP as my patient.....
    SnowShoeRN, PaintedWings♥, miasmom, and 14 others like this.
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    I once walked into a darkened pts room and she yelled watch out! watch out, oh be careful!!! So I am hoping and jumping around trying to see what I am to be so careful about. FINALLY get the light turned on, see NOTHING to be alarmed aobut, and when I looked at the resident, she said, Oh, Whew!! I just knew you were gonna step on that alligator there!!! LOL
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    I love this thread!

    One of my fav's -- Heard a shriek from a negative pressure "isolation" room in ICU & ran over to the window to see what had happened. The window was completely obscured with BLOOD - yep, just like a horror movie. I alerted my co-workers & since I was the charge nurse, I gowned up to go inside. Opened the door & found the nurse standing stock-still like Carrie in the prom scene, with blood all over her and the non-responsive patient but monitors looked OK. Upon further investigation, I discovered that she had used a pressure bag to speed up the transfusion.... pumped it up a wee bit too much ... and the blood literally exploded all over the room.

    I got the giggles - slipping and sliding on blood & trying to sop up the mess with anything handy. By the time we had contained the worst of it, I was laughing uncontrollably & so was everyone else... except the 'Carrie' nurse. Of course, she was in our new nurse residency program. Poor thing. Eventually, I was able to calm her down for a nice "now, what have you learned from this?" talk.

    We couldn't even transfer the patient to another room while we cleaned the mess because it was an isolation room... what a mess. We had to halt visitors until we cleaned up the 'bloodbath'. At some point, every one on the hospital "c-suite" (ceo, cno, cfo, etc) had to come by and goggle at it. It took me hours to finish the incident report.
  11. 6
    Quote from HouTx
    I love this thread!

    One of my fav's -- Heard a shriek from a negative pressure "isolation" room in ICU & ran over to the window to see what had happened. The window was completely obscured with BLOOD - yep, just like a horror movie. I alerted my co-workers & since I was the charge nurse, I gowned up to go inside. Opened the door & found the nurse standing stock-still like Carrie in the prom scene, with blood all over her and the non-responsive patient but monitors looked OK. Upon further investigation, I discovered that she had used a pressure bag to speed up the transfusion.... pumped it up a wee bit too much ... and the blood literally exploded all over the room.

    I got the giggles - slipping and sliding on blood & trying to sop up the mess with anything handy. By the time we had contained the worst of it, I was laughing uncontrollably & so was everyone else... except the 'Carrie' nurse. Of course, she was in our new nurse residency program. Poor thing. Eventually, I was able to calm her down for a nice "now, what have you learned from this?" talk.

    We couldn't even transfer the patient to another room while we cleaned the mess because it was an isolation room... what a mess. We had to halt visitors until we cleaned up the 'bloodbath'. At some point, every one on the hospital "c-suite" (ceo, cno, cfo, etc) had to come by and goggle at it. It took me hours to finish the incident report.
    AAAACK........{{{wheeeeeeze}}}........gasp!....... . I am laughing SO HARD that I can barely breathe!!!! THAT is just about the funniest thing I've heard all year, hoooEEEEE!!!

    Pardon me while I go get a paper towel to wipe the Snapple off my desk.....That was great. Thank you!!
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    I think this counts as a fail. Sitter for a patient who slept all night (I'm a PCA), and I'm desperately trying not to sleep in the chair next to his bed. I fight sleep all night. At 0715 I'm giving report to the next sitter, apparently slurring words because I say "He has suicidal ideation and homocidal ideation". She looks at me, completely serious and says "Is he bisexual?".
    PaintedWings♥, CrazyGoonRN, R!XTER, and 14 others like this.
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    In a narrow room, I tripped over my patient's foot, the one with the dislocated and fractured ankle. To make it worse, I moved the patient's wheelchair so that no one else would walk in and trip over the patient. As I turned the wheelchair, I slammed his foot into the bed. I absolutely wanted to DIE of shame.

    Of course, the patient wouldn't let me touch the wheelchair again. Can you blame him?
    Orca, amygarside, i<3u, and 6 others like this.


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