Thanks to all of your for your responses. Just to address a couple of the questions that were asked:
Are you sure they were nurses? When I went to help care for my daughter, I couldn't tell, and I'm a nurse. Their badges were too small to read. They could've been doctors, respiratory therapists, pt. care techs, transporters, volunteers, unit secretaries, or even housekeepers. One or all of them could have just brought in a new patient from ER or from another unit.
No, I'm not sure they were nurses. The only orientation we got to who was who was that there was a chalkboard on the wall by her bed, with the name of her nurse and her ... wow, it's been long enough that I can't remember. I think the board listed an RN and an LPN. I guess I didn't understand why someone
at the desk didn't answer her, whether they were "her" nurse or not. Especially since it was
someone from the desk who promptly followed me to help her reposition.
I also would think that maybe she needed a pain med along with repositioning, in the scenario you described. I hope they gave her something.
She was on one of those "push button for more drugs" systems, but it only gave her more drugs when it was time. I do think her pain was under-controlled, but obviously that wasn't the nurse's fault. The other odd problems she had while she was there -- she broke out in hives, and there was some concern that had been caused by the first painkiller (Vicodin, I think), so they switched her to another one. (We think it was actually a skin reaction to the detergents used to clean the sheets, or else just from being unable to move out of the wet spots from her sweat.) And apparently narcotics don't work for her as well as they work for most people.
First let me say yur sister is very lucky to have had a C2 fracture and it sounds like she had no spinal cord involvement. She was also lucky to have only been in the hospital for a week and a half. I used to work Trauma ICU and we had people for months in the unit. That Halo brace must be a nightmare to have to wear.
Yeah, she was AMAZINGLY lucky. Well, she was awfully unlucky to get in the car accident at all. But given that, she was very lucky not to be hurt worse. She actually crawled out of her smashed car because she thought she'd need to flag down someone to help her (she was in shock -- it was rush hour, and probably half the drivers on the road had dialed 911 on their cell phones as soon as they saw her go off the road). But, she had no spinal cord injury at all, just the fractures of the vertebrae.
She was only briefly in the Neuro ICU, just after she had the surgery to do the fusion and put on the halo vest. I didn't visit her in the ICU; she only wanted Mom.
And yes, halo vests are a pain in the butt! But they're preferable to the alternatives. Apparently before halo vests were available, patients had to stay in bed in the hospital while their fractures healed. That would have been a lot worse than the halo vest. My sister said the worst part about the halo vest were all the strangers who would come up and start conversations. She didn't mind the people who wanted to tell her about their
halo vests. It was the people who wanted to tell her about how Jesus had saved them the night they drove their pickup truck drunk with no seatbelt and crashed it, and they walked away without a scratch -- those
started to drive her really nuts.
In my facility they make us all dress alike so that the people visiting the facility get the illusion of more nursing staff. There is a sea of blue and white and very few are bedside nurses who actually work that particular unit.
That was definitely the case in this hospital. Sea of blue scrubs
and white coats. I think they were all patient care staff of the non-MD-type, but I don't know if they were RNs, LPNs, nursing assistants, or buff men who are hired by the hospital to do the heavy patient lifting (I'm sure there's a technical term for those
)...or something else entirely. I don't think they were the cleaning staff and they definitely weren't doctors.
Five minutes, I hate to say, is a short wait in most hospitals. I knw 5 minutes feels like 5 hours when you are in pain.
Yeah. When I was in the hospital after my appendectomy and after childbirth, a five-minute wait was no big deal at all. I was usually asking for something like another blanket. (In my defense, I'm always happy to get stuff like that for myself if I know where to find it! :chuckle My assumption has always been that the nurses would rather get me a blanket than have me go hunting through the closets on the unit...) But I've always assumed, I guess that (a) units with more critically injured patients have more staff, and (b) patients who are likely to need something genuinely urgent are responded to faster.
You also stated that your sister rang for trivial things. The best analogy is the boy who cried wolf. If you call frequently for "fluff my pillow, bend my straw" type of things, people will be slower to respond.
Well, and see, this I guess is one of the things that bugs me still. I couldn't help but wonder if my sister was
being treated as the boy who cried wolf, because she'd call and ask to be moved, and then call three minutes later and ask to be moved again because she was actually hurting more instead of less. (She couldn't always tell right away whether a new position was going to be better or worse.) When I say "trivial," I mean "small." She was really helpless, so if she wanted a drink of water and my mother and I weren't there, she had to ring for a nurse to hold her up to her lips (and yeah, bend her straw for her!) She is not someone who likes
to be dependent, or who would order a nurse around for fun.
Not to be mean but because there are other issues that require attention first. Are you sure that they weren't discussing a pressing patient issue?
No, I'm not. That's a good point. All of the information on legitimate things they might have been doing at the nurse's station are helpful. It's too bad they expect you guys to chart and so on while also taking care of your patients; I've worked in interruption-driven jobs (like answering the phone for a computer helpline) and it's darn near impossible to get anything else done.
What strikes me is, having been there well over a week... how was it that more Staff (note. I'm not saying Nurses) were not familiar with you.... On our Unit, family is quickly oriented to what's available, how to call us, and I also let the patient and the family know that if I'm not there shortly after the call light is pressed. it's because I'm unavailable for some reason. But someone should be there to answer, even if I'm not.
Well, my mother was there more than I was and became much more familiar with the different staff members. I mostly visited for an hour or two each evening. This incident was quite early on in her stay; as she healed, she got a lot more able to move around on her own. She still needed help getting in and out of bed, but she was able to reposition her own arm, feed herself, walk to the bathroom, etc.
Anyway. Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful responses and your well-wishes for my sister. It's not like I obsess about this every day
but I found myself thinking about it while reading through some of the threads (yes, yes, I know you come here to vent, I respect and affirm the right of EVERYONE to vent, especially those who deal with the Public on a daily basis, and particularly those who deal with a public in a high-stakes way on a daily basis ... but it still made me wonder if my sister's requests got vented about). I appreciate the comments, especially since I'm not a nurse and really shouldn't be poking through your site :chuckle My sister is really almost entirely recovered now. She does have a little lingering soreness when she overtires her arm, and she can't turn her neck as far to the side as she could before the fusion. Considering that she actually broke her neck
less than a year ago, I'd say she doesn't have much to complain about (and she certainly doesn't complain).