Could a Registered Nurse hold their own when it comes to treating patients...?

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    For example, if some SEVERE devastating "end of the world" weather tragedy (earthquake, tsunami, hurricane) were to occur and there were numerous people in need of serious medical attention. Assuming medical supplies were available in their disposal, would a registered nurse with 5 years of experience in the ER or ICU be able to treat the the people on their own?

    The reason for my question is that I have been watching a lot of medical television series (bad reference for information, please excuse me) and there was an episode where a nurse is checking out a victim's gunshot wound in a surplus store filled with supplies during a robbery. The surrounding spectators tell the civilian RN to do something while the wounded victim is bleeding everywhere. The nurse always responds "he needs a doctor." The nurse is unable to extract the wound by themselves?

    Sorry if I sound misinformed. Could any other fields hold their own without being a doctor or consultation from one? (PA, NP, EMT, etc.) Not only limited to gunshot wounds, but other severe injuries, diseases, sickness etc.

    Keep in mind, this is a hypothetical end of the world type of event, so losing your license/lawsuits do not really apply. Just people who are in dire need of your assistance in a rural region.
    lindarn likes this.
  2. 20 Comments so far...

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    I think it depends on the nurse more than anything else. Someone who went into case management straight outta school isn't going to be able to do much for a burn victim, other than tell them what their funneral will cost.

    I'd think ED/ICU/Trauma nurses would be good in a pinch like the one you described. IDK, guess it depends on how much of a "Type A Personality" they have.
    Rob72, ChristineN, lindarn, and 3 others like this.
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    Quote from lee_sHAY
    For example, if some SEVERE devastating "end of the world" weather tragedy (earthquake, tsunami, hurricane) were to occur and there were numerous people in need of serious medical attention. Assuming medical supplies were available in their disposal, would a registered nurse with 5 years of experience in the ER or ICU be able to treat the the people on their own?

    The reason for my question is that I have been watching a lot of medical television series (bad reference for information, please excuse me) and there was an episode where a nurse is checking out a victim's gunshot wound in a surplus store filled with supplies during a robbery. The surrounding spectators tell the civilian RN to do something while the wounded victim is bleeding everywhere. The nurse always responds "he needs a doctor." The nurse is unable to extract the wound by themselves?

    Sorry if I sound misinformed. Could any other fields hold their own without being a doctor? (PA, NP, EMT, etc.) Not only limited to gunshot wounds, but other severe injuries, diseases, sickness etc.
    I recently read an article about a lady who volunteered as a nurse (with no training at ALL) during the civil war. She was on the battlefield when a soldier got a gunshot wound and no doctors were coming to assist him. She took out her POCKET KNIFE and removed the bullet! That being said, we don't know how deep the wound in the scenario you mention was, or where it was located. That's a big part of the puzzle. I think it also depends on the nurse. There are some nurses who function as "mini doctors" and other nurses who literally couldn't hold their own if they had to work as a NA for a day. There are so many other factors that come into play which make it impossible to give a concrete answer to the question.
    lindarn likes this.
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    Short answer, no, probably not.
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    I think they should be able to, maybe not as to the point of operating on the patient. But I think a good trauma/ER nurse should be able to stabilize a patient. I work medical/surgical and I think that if all of the doctors were called to other areas of the hospital for an emergency I would be able to care for our patients without a doctors assistance. In fact working night shift when you call the on-call physician they often expect you to give them recommendations as at that point you know the patient/situation better than they do. We see the same patients day in and day out most of the time so its pretty routine. I imagine if you see/treat gunshot wounds under the supervision of a physician most of the time, you would learn what needs to be done.
    lindarn and DizzyLizzyNurse like this.
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    Quote from LouisVRN
    I think they should be able to, maybe not as to the point of operating on the patient. But I think a good trauma/ER nurse should be able to stabilize a patient. I work medical/surgical and I think that if all of the doctors were called to other areas of the hospital for an emergency I would be able to care for our patients without a doctors assistance. In fact working night shift when you call the on-call physician they often expect you to give them recommendations as at that point you know the patient/situation better than they do. We see the same patients day in and day out most of the time so its pretty routine. I imagine if you see/treat gunshot wounds under the supervision of a physician most of the time, you would learn what needs to be done.
    well, working med/surg and caring for patients with gunshot wounds is a whole different ballgame than caring for a victim of a gunshot in a public place at the point of impact i.e. with the bullet intact. just saying.
    lindarn likes this.
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    I would have to say that the answer would completely depend upon the issues that the patient has and the Nurse's knowledge-base. There are just too many variables to say anything otherwise. The same can be said for any other provider listed. In a true "end of the world" kind of situation, some serious triage will also have to happen as resources will likely be quite finite.

    And that's just the way it would have to be.
    lindarn and MMARN like this.
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    Quote from JSlovex2
    well, working med/surg and caring for patients with gunshot wounds is a whole different ballgame than caring for a victim of a gunshot in a public place at the point of impact i.e. with the bullet intact. just saying.
    I think the poster is saying that if you routinely treat/see GS wounds.....you would be more apt to know how to care for them.....trauma/er/medics. Not that working MS made them capable of this type of care, but used their experience to make a point that nurses spend more time with pts & usually know their status better than doctors...that if a distaster occured certain types of nurses would be more able to deal....than others.
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    If you were in the hospital with the GS wound pt, would you know how to operate & interpret an x-ray, CT, or MRI machine? Wouldn't most doctors do that step first before slicing away to get the bullet out?
    lindarn likes this.
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    this is a very good question... I suppose in a disaster one would do what she/he could do to save someone. Many of us have advanced education and training and might be able to "act as a doctor", but legally, probably not...Nurses are suppose to "act" nto the level that they are trained.. 5 years in Er is hardly enough experience..there is more to managing a pt than ER medicine. One needs to know medicine , structure, function etc...thats why we now have so many specialists, but Im sure in a disaster, a nurse might go over and above her practice act...the nurses in the army perform amputations and all kinds of medical management. so its a good question.....
    NRSKarenRN and lindarn like this.


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