That's not a bad nurse

  1. 1

    I have friends that are not in healthcare that believe if a nurse has to poke you for an IV start more than once... they are a bad nurse. This is an article where I attempt to convey the absurdity of this statement through ridicule and satire.

    That's not a bad nurse

    A friend of mine dislocated her shoulder and ended up in the emergency room. Because the emergency room is normally a hot mess express, she ended up having to wait over an hour and a half to be roomed. When she finally saw a doctor, he told her she was going to get some pain medicine through an IV before he popped it back into place. Everything turned out fine and she was discharged within an hour. And then she proceeded to call me (because I'm an ER nurse) and tell me how awful her nurse was. "She missed my IV the first time and she had to poke me again. It was awful". I told her "That's not a bad nurse".

    This isn't the first time I've heard something like this. Many people and patients tell me their "horror stories" about emergency, urgent care, or office visits. And when I ask for any more details besides them missing one or two IV starts, they usually don't have anything more to add. And that's when I get frustrated.

    If you sat in a pool of your own diarrhea for 50 minutes you had a bad nurse. If you were poked six times for an IV before an ultrasound IV expert was called, you had a bad nurse. If you were given 10mg Haldol and 2 mg Lorazepam by accident because your nurse didn't double check the order and realize the doctor put the emergent psychiatric "go to sleep cocktail" on the wrong patient, and you woke up with a tube down your throat... you had a bad nurse. If you were discharged home and developed a nasty rash on your arm that spread into a wicked skin infection that needed to be treated aggressively with antibiotics because your nurse didn't wash their hands and follow isolation protocols after touching an XDR patient... you had a bad nurse. If you were there for a chin laceration repair and could ambulate without difficulty and the nurse told you it was hospital policy that everyone had to use a urinal or bedpan only... you had a horrible nurse.

    If you were not updated with changes in status or progress every hour or so because your nurse was in the locker room exchanging saliva with the pharmacist... you had a bad nurse. If you noticed your left arm was rapidly swelling around your IV site that has phenergan infusing and you called your nurse in to reassess and they said "meh, it's fine" and walk out... you had a bad nurse. If you had a horrible burn from a kitchen fire and your nurse walks in singing "This girl is on FIRREEE, FIREEE, FIREEE".... You had a bad nurse.... But you kind of have to appreciate the irony.

    A bad nurse is someone who diverts narcotics and sells it on the black market for extra cash. A bad nurse only goes into your room to watch the game on the television. A bad nurse doesn't advocate for you or questions things when they're wrong. A bad nurse doesn't clean up their mess and leaves a "sharps and needles minefield" in your stretcher.

    I remember being a new nurse and I missed a lot of IV starts. I still miss now, I'm not perfect. And there's no question clinical skills are important in nursing. But to categorize the entire experience with a nurse based on one or two pokes is crazy to me. If I have a nurse that is attentive to my needs, empathetic, smart, and considerate, they could poke me twice and I'd be fine with it. Because that's not a bad nurse
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 15, '18
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    About stephen1219

    I am an ER nurse who used to live in Wisconsin. I also think I'm much funnier than I actually am.

    Joined: Mar '13; Posts: 14; Likes: 90
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience

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  3. by   Cowboyardee
  4. by   Here.I.Stand
    While pregnant with my first child, I frequented a pregnancy/baby forum. I can't count how many times someone complaining about "that stupid nurse" missed a vein. I was in school at the time. I would reply "So the nurse failed to hit an invisible/impalpable vein. How does that indicate a cognitive deficit? How do you suggest she get it on the first try, being the non-stupid mom you are?" or "if a nurse can neither feel nor see a vein, guess what? Yeah it might take more than one try. It's not an issue of intelligence."
  5. by   sideshowstarlet
    Lol! But... But... The IV that infiltrated, causing a swollen arm and was ignored by the nurse... Answer me this! Did the nurse have to poke you once or twice to start said IV?
  6. by   Purple_roses
    I did once have a little old man blame me for his IV going bad. He had super fragile veins. His IV had flushed just fine before I started his antibiotics. Removed it, wrapped his arm in a warm blanket, started a new one, and then he blamed me. I said "bud your tiny, fragile veins are 100% to blame on this one."
  7. by   RNperdiem
    A good percentage of serial killers have been nurses. I would classify them as bad nurses.
  8. by   CoffeeYogaNurse
    Excellent article
  9. by   helen09
    Love the article! Some people are just high maintenance and clueless about what can go wrong in an emergency situation besides a missed IV poke.
  10. by   aflahe00
    People who don't know any better think that we are supposed to be perfect. They forget we are human. They don't know that even the best nurse can miss getting that iv on the first try. It all depends on what you have to work with and most don't have perfect veins.
    Last edit by aflahe00 on Sep 10, '17
  11. by   Irish_Mist
    If people are asinine enough to think that not getting an IV on the first try makes a bad nurse, then I'd like to see them try to get an IV on the first try under less than ideal conditions. Even the best IV starter misses. It really isn't indicative of one's ability as a nurse. In fact, anyone can be taught to do IVs. It really isn't a hard task. It's kind of like riding a bike. Once you get the feel for it, it's easy. But, you'll ocasionally run into bumps and rough paths on the way.

    Seems like the general public expects perfection out of medical staff and has at times very unrealistic expectations. Oh well. Maybe next time, they'll get someone that goes for a 14 next time they need an IV.
  12. by   TriciaJ
    Once when I was being prepped for surgery, the nurse got the stick the first time. And then wondered why she couldn't get the IV to run. She was really embarrassed to realize she had left the tourniquet on, especially since I was a nurse. I told her I had done a thousand dumb things like that; it's the general public that expects infallibility.
  13. by   KRVRN
    "I want the doctor to start my IV"

    No, no you don't. You want the nurse that all the nurses agree is the best.
  14. by   Irish_Mist
    Quote from KRVRN
    "I want the doctor to start my IV"

    No, no you don't. You want the nurse that all the nurses agree is the best.
    LOL. I have never heard this one before. Honestly, I doubt most of the physicians I know have started in IV in the last five years and that is being generous. If requested, they'd all agree that the nurses are the best choice for starting an IV.