Ask A Stupid Question . . . .

  1. I know I've asked some really, really stupid questions in my day. Right now, though, none of them come to mind. The stupidest question I can think of right now was asked by a married father of three who was an intern years and years ago. I was working Med/Surg as an RN, and had 30 patients with an LPN and an NA. The intern came by the room where the NA and I were struggling to clean up poop on an obese, elderly gentleman who had been rolling in and fingerpainting with the stuff. The intern told me that I needed to put a catheter in Mrs. P "STAT" so he could look at the urine under a microscope. This being before the age of customer service, I (probably not so politely) told him that I was busy, and if he needed it stat he could do it himself. He nodded and disappeared for long enough for us to finish cleaning up that gentleman and move on. The NA and I again had our hands full with an incontinent patient when the intern popped his head into the room saying he had a question. I anticipated something like "what do I hook the catheter to" or "where are the specimen labels?" but it was nothing like that.

    "There are THREE holes down there," he told me. "Which one does it go in?"

    The NA told me later that my jaw dropped and my mouth was hanging open. The only response I could come up with is "HOW long have you been married?"

    The NA was the one who drew him the picture, labeling the three holes "poop" "pee" and "baby."
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    About Ruby Vee, BSN, RN

    Joined: Jun '02; Posts: 14,252; Likes: 59,753

    31 Comments

  3. by   AliNajaCat
    One of my faves was when I was the critical care clin spec and already famous for answering any question, anytime, anywhere, or getting the answer if needed. The chaplain (age 50s) stopped by my office one afternoon; his wife was having a hysterectomy and he wanted to know where the sperm would go after the surgery. I told him it was pretty much the same place it always went before: wet spot.

    My second fave of all time was when I was working open heart surgery ICU. The night before we always had tomorrow's fresh hearts and their NOK come for a little orientation talk about heart surgery, what to expect in the ICU, see an empty room, answer questions, and such. One of our very talented staff nurses made a big chart-sized set of illustrations showing the tubes and wires and stuff when they arrived, sounds they'd hear, visiting hours, and then we would peel back the pages one by one by one to show extubation and the vent disappearing, the chest tubes coming out, the Foley, the vein harvest site dressings coming off, and all. We also asked about particular types-- who's having a valve, who's having a CABG, and all that. We took the roll from tomorrow's OR schedule; anybody who was too sick in CCU to come visit us got a bedside visit when we were done.

    One evening it was my turn and things were going really well, but I could see one guy looking really more and more upset and anxious. I stopped and said, "Did I say something that upset you?" And he said, "I'm having surgery tomorrow for chest pain but it's NOT MY HEART!!!" I looked on the schedule and there he was, CABGx3, 0700. OK, mmmm.

    I excused him from class and called the chief resident to let him know that he needed to do a little more patient prep on this one...
  4. by   blackribbon
    This week I had orders to collect a urine specimen on an anuria dialysis patient. When we didn't send it down in two days, the doctor put in NEW orders for the same urine specimen. Since I am night shift and never see the doctors, I put in a sticky explaining why we couldn't provide the specimen requested.
  5. by   Jules A
    Quote from Ruby Vee
    "There are THREE holes down there," he told me. "Which one does it go in?"

    The NA told me later that my jaw dropped and my mouth was hanging open. The only response I could come up with is "HOW long have you been married?"

    The NA was the one who drew him the picture, labeling the three holes "poop" "pee" and "baby."
    That is hilarious although I'm giving him kudos for seeing and realizing there are three down there, rofl.

    However remember in this day and age of not only the importance of customer service but also special snowflakes there really is NO such thing as a stupid question.
  6. by   sevensonnets
    I was teaching a new RN to do trach care. When I removed the inner cannula to switch it out she yelled "Don't do that! How's he gonna breathe?"
  7. by   AliNajaCat
    Oooh, that reminds me of the first job I ever had, PACU. We got people in with oral ET tubes in place, breathing OK; when they woke up enough to not like it being in there, we extubated them. Meanwhile, we stuck an O2 cath in the tube.

    So the ADN grad we had in there admits this old bird with her tube in place, and I look over and she's getting the O2 cath and turning it on. A minute later I look over there and the old bird is turning purple and bucking all over the place. I rush over, and there's the O2 cath in place...and the end of the tube is completely taped over, presumably to secure the cath.

    I rip off the tape and things settle down in a hurry. ADN asks me in a big huff what I'm so upset about. I said, "You taped off the end of her ET tube. How's she gonna breathe?" And the answer, accompanied by much eye-rolling, like I'm the dumbass of the year, "Through her nose, silly."

    Fortunately, we had a big poster of a cut-away view of the head, showing nasal/oral/tracheal anatomy ... It was really scary to see how long it took for her to understand how that tube and cuff worked.

    I didn't mean to hijack this thread into, "Some of the dumbest things I ever saw ..." But they do mesh so closely ... Did I ever tell you about the guy we got back from the floor to the ICU with a pH of something like 6.10, because somebody thought, "Replace NG drainage IV cc/cc" (it had been 1/2cc/cc c NS, and this was just a change in the amount) meant to put the actual Gomco suction returns from the Salem sump into a burette and infuse it into the central line? Oh jeez.
  8. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from AliNajaCat
    Oooh, that reminds me of the first job I ever had, PACU. We got people in with oral ET tubes in place, breathing OK; when they woke up enough to not like it being in there, we extubated them. Meanwhile, we stuck an O2 cath in the tube.

    So the ADN grad we had in there admits this old bird with her tube in place, and I look over and she's getting the O2 cath and turning it on. A minute later I look over there and the old bird is turning purple and bucking all over the place. I rush over, and there's the O2 cath in place...and the end of the tube is completely taped over, presumably to secure the cath.

    I rip off the tape and things settle down in a hurry. ADN asks me in a big huff what I'm so upset about. I said, "You taped off the end of her ET tube. How's she gonna breathe?" And the answer, accompanied by much eye-rolling, like I'm the dumbass of the year, "Through her nose, silly."

    Fortunately, we had a big poster of a cut-away view of the head, showing nasal/oral/tracheal anatomy ... It was really scary to see how long it took for her to understand how that tube and cuff worked.

    I didn't mean to hijack this thread into, "Some of the dumbest things I ever saw ..." But they do mesh so closely ... Did I ever tell you about the guy we got back from the floor to the ICU with a pH of something like 6.10, because somebody thought, "Replace NG drainage IV cc/cc" (it had been 1/2cc/cc c NS, and this was just a change in the amount) meant to put the actual Gomco suction returns from the Salem sump into a burette and infuse it into the central line? Oh jeez.
    Don't apologize! Great story! One of my own boners was to tape over the vent holes on the CPAP mask because I thought it was an "air leak." The RT who straightened me out was kinder than she needed to be.

    When I was working Med/Surg, one of the diploma students gave MOM 30 cc to her patient "in the butt" because she was NPO for the OR. Envisioning a Milk of Magnesia enema, I was wondering aloud whether we needed to give a tap water enema to wash that stuff out of there, when the student said "Don't worry. We gave it IM." Oh, for the love of . . . .
  9. by   AliNajaCat
    When I was working Med/Surg, one of the diploma students gave MOM 30 cc to her patient "in the butt" because she was NPO for the OR. Envisioning a Milk of Magnesia enema, I was wondering aloud whether we needed to give a tap water enema to wash that stuff out of there, when the student said "Don't worry. We gave it IM." Oh, for the love of . . . .
    Oh. My. God.

    Please tell me that she at least made a decimal error and only gave the poor SOB 3 cc ...

    (trying to work out in my head what IM Milk of Mag would do to muscle ...)
  10. by   Pepper The Cat
    We had a new RPN who wanted to tape plastic bags over the trach cannulas so she wouldn't have to clean up the secretions.
  11. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from AliNajaCat
    Oh. My. God.

    Please tell me that she at least made a decimal error and only gave the poor SOB 3 cc ...

    (trying to work out in my head what IM Milk of Mag would do to muscle ...)
    Nope, gave the whole 30cc. It was a really ugly abcess . . . .
  12. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from Pepper The Cat
    We had a new RPN who wanted to tape plastic bags over the trach cannulas so she wouldn't have to clean up the secretions.
    Yikes!
  13. by   brownbook
    I was working with a student nurse, (and I honestly love to teach, work with students), I asked her to put a pulse oximetry probe on a patient. I know they come in different designs...but basically they are all kind of like clothes pins.

    I go to check the patient a little later and the student had managed to put it on backwards. These probes were really kind of small/short on the "wrong" end. I'm not sure how she managed to make it fit?
  14. by   Jules A
    Quote from Ruby Vee
    Don't apologize! Great story! One of my own boners was to tape over the vent holes on the CPAP mask because I thought it was an "air leak." The RT who straightened me out was kinder than she needed to be.
    .
    Absolutely, many of the stupidest stories I have were my own blunders!

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