How did you react to your first code?

  1. From the time I was in nursing school up until now (as a new graduate RN), I had never seen a code. Today for the very first time, I did not just see one code, I saw two and they happened to be right next door to each other! I know that I should have felt awful for the patients, but I was just so excited to finally see a code that I kept going back and forth to look to see what was going on for each one.

    Do you think it's wrong to get excited when a patient is doing poorly? Of course I care about people or I wouldn't have become a nurse, but it felt a little strange afterwards.

    I was just wondering how other nurses (you) reacted the first time you saw a patient code (go into cardiac arrest or respiratory distress).
  2. Visit AZcardiacRN profile page

    About AZcardiacRN

    Joined: Jan '07; Posts: 11; Likes: 10
    Registered Nurse
    Specialty: Cardiac, Med/Surg

    45 Comments

  3. by   Christie RN2006
    I was a student when I saw my first code and I freaked out!! I remember standing in the doorway watching (there were tons of people in the room) and someone pointed at be and said "hey you! do you know how to do cpr?" I said yes and they said "ok then get in here, you are next" I honestly got so nervous and was thinking to myself, "I don't remember what to do?!" When it was my time to do compressions what I had learned just kicked in and I just did it.

    I know how you feel about the excitement... I am not excited for the person that is coding, but I get a major adrenaline rush out of a situation like that and I really like being able to use the skills I have learned. I am now an ACLS certified ICU nurse and on the code team at my hospital and I get excited when I hear "code blue" being called on the overhead speakers... the only time I don't like codes is when it is on my own patient...

    I have seen too many codes to even count now and respiratory distress is sometimes a daily occurance, some days I make it my goal to do everything I can to keep my patient off the vent. If you really want a rush try jumping in and helping next time there is a code
  4. by   Bigsky4me2
    The first time I was in on a code was as a CNA... I think the excitement felt is the "major adrenaline rush" that Christie wrote about. After everything calmed down I almost felt depressed by the event (our patient died).

    Now I am a sophomore RN and I haven't seen once since then. As yet, I haven't had complete responsibility for my patients, but there is a sense of anticipation when they are not doing well. It keeps me on my toes, as I never know what's coming next and I have to try to be ready for nearly anything...
  5. by   deeDawntee
    I think it is perfectly OK to be engaged in the moment of a code situation. Not everyone can do it, there has to be some of us who can survive and yes even thrive on that level of stress. If you talk to ED nurses and Docs they will admit they are adrenalin junkies. There absolutely must be people who can perform in that situation. See yourself as special and not as uncaring. Of course you care or you wouldn't have posted this question. It is an amazing scene of teamwork, with each entity having its own role to play, it is something to behold. To be inspired and awed by such a coming together of disciplines to save a life is totally OK. It is the time that I am most proud of being a nurse.
  6. by   nghtfltguy
    i ended up crackin some ribs on my first code. was way back in the days... i felt like crap for a long time... the pt. made it though.. the first time i gotta defib someone was truly awesome though! i'll never forget that first time.. i have done it too many times since then, but that first time i said "clear" made me feel really cool... LOL..
    ahhh the little things in life and medicine..
    the best though is when someone is talking.. .slip out on ya mid sentence, go into v-fib and ya shock em, and they start right back in on the sentence where they left off!.. too cool!!!

  7. by   AZcardiacRN
    Thanks for all the posts everyone. I really appreciate your feedback and enjoy reading your responses as well.

  8. by   loriann
    I actually saw my first 2 codes on the same night!!

    The first one I hung back more and ran to get things they were calling for like additional bags of NS, flushes, etc. The patient died, so I helped the primary nurse with cleaning the room, caring for the deceased, etc.

    About an hour later, a second person coded and I got more involved, mainly because I wanted to see more and understand. I ended up in the line of people doing chest compressions.

    There's definitely an adrenaline rush and feeling of excitement. Of course, you're not happy that the patient isn't doing well, but I think it's natural to be curious. Plus, it's the only way you will learn.
  9. by   Melanie_RN
    My first code was my first day in the ICU. Working on the floor we had a bunch of "near codes", but nothing a good dose of Narcan couldn't fix.
    The guy had been less responsive than before (EMV=3T) and we had called KODA (the organ donation society)that morning because its protocol for our hospital when someone'es EMV is 3. Later that evening, I noticed a change in his EKG. Then it went junctional, we were on the phone with the doc's getting orders for cardiac enzymes, when his rhythm went even crazier, so we go in there (my preceptor and I) and check for a pulse. Nothing. So we start stripping him off and hit the CPR latch on the bed. They call the code, and bring me the back board. At that point I almost started crying, but then it kicked in and I knew exactly what to do. And as bad as it sounds, all I could think was "HELL YES! I"M GONNA DO CHEST COMPRESSIONS!!!!" We coded the guy for an hour, and there was nothing more we could do. It was just severe sepsis. I did at least 15 rounds of compressions, maybe more, my preceptor did that many as well. We put in chest tubes and all that jazz during the code. We got the chest Xray (still not sure why, it seemed to be a bit pointless after the docs already decided to call it, but she was there with the portable) and during all that, my preceptor and I had managed to break all his ribs and his sternum was broken from his collar bones. Needless to say, we wanted him back. We seriously worked as hard as we could on this guy. It was all really exciting, honestly.
  10. by   VivaRN
    There were other codes where I helped hook things up and whatnot - not a big deal. As the most junior RN I mainly got shoved out of the way. One of the senior nurses kept trying to razz me by saying "What are you going to do! You're a critical care nurse now!" and I was like, if ya'll would let me close to the patient...

    I wasn't truly "in the thick of it" until one night, 3 weeks off orientation, MY patient coded. Luckily I'd had a few near-misses so I always set up the room (anal-retentively) just in case. We inserted chest tubes, started him on 3 more pressors and eventually they opened his belly at the bedside to try to expand his lungs (this was a burn patient with circumferential trunk burns). During the code itself I was very organized. It wasn't until afterwards that I felt for the patient - he died - alone, no family to call, and was now lying in a pool of blood with his belly sliced open. Everyone scampered and I was left to do end-of-life care. It was a homicide and he was homeless. An unidentified assailant poured ETOH on him and set him on fire. He never regained consciousness. That picture affected me more than the actual code.

    To this day I remember his name and everything about him.
  11. by   fronkey bean
    Quote from AZcardiacRN
    From the time I was in nursing school up until now (as a new graduate RN), I had never seen a code. Today for the very first time, I did not just see one code, I saw two and they happened to be right next door to each other! I know that I should have felt awful for the patients, but I was just so excited to finally see a code that I kept going back and forth to look to see what was going on for each one.

    Do you think it's wrong to get excited when a patient is doing poorly? Of course I care about people or I wouldn't have become a nurse, but it felt a little strange afterwards.

    I was just wondering how other nurses (you) reacted the first time you saw a patient code (go into cardiac arrest or respiratory distress).
    I think you sound like most ICU nurses. Some of us thrive on the excitement and challenge of a really sick patient. Nothing wrong w/ that, if it weren't for nurses like us ICU and ED would be pretty much unstaffed
  12. by   EmmaG
    Quote from AZcardiacRN
    From the time I was in nursing school up until now (as a new graduate RN), I had never seen a code. Today for the very first time, I did not just see one code, I saw two and they happened to be right next door to each other! I know that I should have felt awful for the patients, but I was just so excited to finally see a code that I kept going back and forth to look to see what was going on for each one.

    Do you think it's wrong to get excited when a patient is doing poorly? Of course I care about people or I wouldn't have become a nurse, but it felt a little strange afterwards.

    I was just wondering how other nurses (you) reacted the first time you saw a patient code (go into cardiac arrest or respiratory distress).
    Pretty much how I react now... I'm very calm and methodical, then when it's all over I find I'm trembling all over (adrenaline rush, I guess).
  13. by   vamedic4
    My first code was 20 years ago, the lady had gone out to her car to get something and she died right there - an obese woman in her late 40s. It was the first time I ever had to do CPR...for about 35 minutes (rural rescue squad). Luckily I was surrounded by people who knew exactly what to do. I took a lot from that day, I didn't freak out then and I don't now...not DURING the code, that is. After it's all over I get the chance to shake like a leaf in the wind. All that wasted adrenaline, I'm sure.

    vamedic4
    Maybe I'll increase my tan today.
  14. by   wizap
    I could't start an IV... I remember I felt incompetent in a room full of very competant nurses. I went out to the floor and started passing morning meds to the other patients on the floor.

close