Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Things NOT to Do in the ER

What a night. I am not a hard hearted nurse...except to those who abuse me and the medical system. These people need a list of rules handed to them as they walk in the door. They should have to sign in agreement before medical treatment is started. Here are some of my top "do nots."

1. Do not ask me for a warm blanket, a pillow, and some apple juice before I can even ask what's wrong with you. Fake shivering won't get you anywhere either.

2. Under no circumstances should you stand at the far end of my desk staring at me. I see you out of the corner of my eye and I purposely ignore you. I do not show you the call light in your room for nothing. Use it! I'll get to you when I have time.

3. Do not give your elderly mother a suppository 30 minutes before you are being discharged. That's just mean.

4. Do not come into the ER with your 2 month old baby and no diapers, wipes, or formula and THEN have the nerve to ask if I have Enfamil with iron...and ONLY the kind with iron. I'll tell you who DOES have that. Kroger. They're 1 mile down the road. Who in the world leaves without bear necessities for a child?

5. Do not bring your laughing, playing 4 year old into the ER at 3 a.m. for their alleged ear infection. You know you just want a work excuse.

6. Do not ask if I can use a butterfly needle to start your IV. That's so annoying.

7. Don't pitch a fit when I tell you you have to have an IV started. If you're in bad enough pain to be in the ER, you should expect an IV.

8. Do not talk to the other patient in the hallway about how no one cares about your situation and you haven't been seen in X hours while we're standing in front of you. We have ears...and those statements will make your wait longer...and your pain meds delayed.

9. Do not come into the ER and complain that you haven't eaten all day and you're starving. That's not my fault, nor is it my problem. Missing a meal or two won't hurt you. Even worse, if you're a family member complaining that your relative hasn't eaten all day, quit being mean and lazy and go to McDonalds. They'll give it to you faster than we will. And it tastes better.

10. You absolutely cannot take home our sheets, pillows, and blankets.

11. Do not come into the ER wanting your 10 month long, chronic headache to be healed. Never make the statement, "I'm not leaving until someone finally figures out what's wrong with me!" Those people always eat their words. We are for EMERGENCIES...not chronic problems.

12. Don't come in with a pain somewhere in your body without taking SOME sort of medication first. You lose our sympathy that way.

13. Do not call an ambulance for your cough. Yes, that happens. Unless your lung it hanging out of your mouth, your coughing butt will go straight to the waiting room...for a long time.

14. Do I wear an apron? Do not come give me your coffee order. This is not McDonalds. I am not a waitress. Do not ask me to change the channel on your television for you or, "find what channel Murray is on." I have better things to do...like save lives.

15. Do not get mad when you have to wait 7 hours to be seen for your sniffy nose. This is an EMERGENCY room. You are clearly not the priority patient.

16. Don't lie to me. I will find out. And when I do, I won't believe one more word that comes out of your mouth...and I'll document it for future nurses.

17. Do not ask me to come dim your lights, tuck you in, and get you 5 more blankets when I'm running full speed down the hall with IV fluids and medications filling my hands. Tuck your own self in.

18. Absolutely do NOT come back to the room with "stomach pain" while drinking a Sprite and eating Cheetos.

19. It is not necessary to bring your entire family tree to the tiny ER room with you. They only get in my way. Text message them in the waiting room.

20. Don't ask me 15 times, "How much longer until I get a room?" Trust me--I want you out of here as much as you want to get out of here. You'll know when I know.

21. Do not request your own pain meds. You'll be sure not to get them, drug seeker.

22. DO NOT talk on the cell phone while I am in the room talking to you or your sick child/mother/baby's daddy. Your conversation about tonight's episode of your favorite tv show ranks at the bottom of importance. And if you choose to continue talking as I'm finishing giving your 12 year old her medical instructions, DON'T hang up the phone and ask what I just said. I'll tell you you can read the discharge papers. I'm not talking for my health.

23. Don't tell me, "I can't pee right now." You either try or I go up and get it with a catheter. Your choice.

24. Don't tell me about the appointments you have to keep this afternoon so I'll hurry up. It certainly doesn't work that way. Since you are here, it "must" be an emergency. Surely you can explain to your doctor/lawyer/boss the "emergency" you had to miss work/appts for.

25. When the doctor leaves the room after telling you you are going to be discharged, don't come find me at the desk to tell me you're going to get to leave. Yes, I know that, and I'll be in to discharge you as soon as possible.

So basically....sit down, shut up, answer questions, and listen to our advice. People who are truly emergencies usually do this without being asked anyway! ;)


Hilary said...

Wow, you are amazing for dealing with this everyday. I know it felt so good to vent!

Luke & Amanda said...

I digress (sp?) my former comment! I am the one who hasnt been keeping up, obviously!! Loved your kittens mittens...and I am working on a list of what not to do in OB to go along with your ER list. Look for it later today!


Shelley said...

You know how to really express our daily life in the ER..ra !!! We had a good laugh and believe me we needed it after the week we've had !!! love girl !!

Shelley, Ann, Heather, and Karolyn

Wade said...


I'm going to forward my sis-n-law over to this post - she's a ER RN in hiatus (18 month old and one on the way).

Shannon said...

Hi Audra, I'm the sister in law of Wade. I worked as an RN in the ER for 3 1/2 years in Abilene.

Can I just give an "Amen" to ALL of your thoughts? They were completely right on and I laughed at each one. Seriously. It really did amaze me at what some people said and came to the ER for. I loved my job, but the "do nots" are exactly the reason for me loving staying home right now:) It will wear you out!!!

Amber said...

Ok, I randomly came across this post and LOVE it! I should write one about what NOT to do when your child is in state custody :)

My family has had to visit the ER 2 times in the past year - and each time we were rushed back. We had TRUE emergencies! But, we did get dirty looks from the people with colds in the waiting room!

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