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Hot August Night

What happens when you have rowdy patients?

Nurses General Nursing Article   posted

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Picture this: It's a hot summer Saturday night in Anytown, USA. The moon is full, and the Med/Surg unit is filling up. Here's a look at what happens when the combination of heat, alcohol, and human stupidity meet.

Hot August Night
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It all started with the patient in room 222.

Jenny was a 94-year-old, feisty, and very demented lady who wandered the halls of our Med/Surg unit like a restless ghost, whom we had placed nearest the nurses' station to keep an eye on her. We couldn't keep her in bed even with q15 min. checks and were not allowed to use geri-chairs or medication to contain her, nor was there a sitter available. It was a busy night---a hot Saturday full-moon night---and we nurses were inundated with admissions. So it wasn't surprising when we lost track of Jenny...until we heard a scream from down the hall.

It was the gentleman in room 216, and suddenly Jenny appeared, holding up a Foley catheter and drainage bag as if it were a prize-winning fish!

We ended up calling Jenny's family to come sit with her, as we could NOT watch her every second. Thankfully her daughter was willing to come in, but as we put out one fire another arose; four admissions came up almost at the same time. One had a broken arm from falling out of a tree, two had been in a motor vehicle crash fueled by beer and machismo, and the other had a gunshot wound...to the scrotum

The latter came up from the ER with a story that was almost as colorful as the wound to his manhood. Apparently he had shoved his loaded .38 in the waistband of his jeans and sat down in his car, just like they do on TV. It never occurred to him that this might not be the brightest idea. Naturally, the gun discharged and blew off his testicles, and now the guy was facing surgery as well as the prospect of never being able to reproduce. He reeked of alcohol and was obviously in pain, so he was not the most cooperative of patients; he didn't grasp the concept of the call light and when he wanted more pain medication he would holler "NURRRRSE!!"

The fellows who had been in the MVC were put in the same room, where they proceeded to argue loudly about who was responsible for the accident. We ended up separating them when they woke up half the floor with their cursing. Meanwhile, one of our patients decided to crump just as another came up from the ER; the dude with the GSW was yelling "NURRRRSE!!"; one of my own patients' IV blew; and Jenny escaped again when her daughter fell asleep in the pull-out chair in her room. I was my usual graceful self and knocked over the flowers in room 201 with a loud crash as the glass vase shattered into a thousand pieces, causing the patient to wake up and cuss me roundly. And on top of all that, we had to deal with one of our frequent flyers, who came in roughly every 5-6 weeks to detox.

This man was somewhere north of 400 pounds, strong as an ox, and routinely required restraints. I'd taken care of him before and seen him march his bariatric bed clear across the room while in 4-point leathers. This time he had drunk a case and a half of beer according to his wife, and she couldn't handle him anymore so she called an ambulance to bring him to the hospital. He was not in DTs yet, but he was already agitated and belligerent, and we started the CIWA protocol.

I don't believe any of us had the chance to pee all night, let alone eat. But we worked together as a team, and eventually that hot August night ended and the day-shifters came in to a bunch of sleeping patients. Even Jenny had finally gone to sleep after eating three cups of custard and some graham crackers (why didn't we think of that first?) I don't think I've ever been as tired as I was that morning, but as hard as the shift had been, I was proud of us, and proud to be part of a team that pulled together when all hell was breaking loose.

And we came back for another round the next night, because that's what nurses do.

Once a nurse, always a nurse!

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Davey Do

Specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

I doff my proverbial hat to you and all medical nurses alike, Marla. You all do, or did, a job that I could not .

My wife B, a medical nurse, comes home with similar stories and I just try to image myself dealing with all the head & footwork and emotions and chaos, and then to go back to it the next shift!

I see myself doing this :


Here's to you!

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, Elder Care, L&D.

Davey throw some red hair on that cartoon and that was me today with three transfers out to ER before 9 am! I took one look out my window last night at the beautiful full moon and lunar eclipse and said to myself "Let the games begin."

Davey Do

Specializes in Psych, CD, HH, Admin, LTC, OR, ER, Med Surge.

12 hours ago, hppygr8ful said:

Davey throw some red hair on that cartoon and that was me today with three transfers out to ER before 9 am!


hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, Elder Care, L&D.

9 hours ago, Davey Do said:


Yep that about captures it. I am stuck in a heck of a change. The facility closed my adolescent unit due to low revenue and I know have a mixed gender acute adult unit - Oh for the days when I could just send them all to their rooms


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