by Robert Schnell
You are an RN in a very busy ICU, only half way through a long, arduous, twelve hour shift. The Emergency Department is full and they have a new “customer” coming to you, but, at present, you don’t have a bed available.
The only potential bed, Bed #4, is currently occupied by a “customer” that was a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and just passed away. Family is mourning at the bedside.
Once they leave you bag, tag and ship the body to the morgue; Pronto! The bed is “STAT Cleaned” and a new “customer” is settled in before it is even cold.
The new admit (a profoundly cachectic bronchopleural fistula) is very unstable and coded almost immediately. He was resuscitated for two hours and did okay for about 30 minutes then coded again and, this time, unfortunately, expired. He is bagged, tagged, sent to the morgue. Bed Stat cleaned. (Is there a pattern emerging here?) Now we have the bed for our “customer” impatiently waiting in the emergency room.
He arrives. You get him settled into Bed #4. All the while the “customer” and his significant other are complaining (nurse speak for “bitching and moaning“) nonstop about the long wait in the emergency room.
They are rude, smell of ETOH, nasty, demanding, sarcastic, condescending, borderline hostile, and, “icing on the hate cake“, self-proclaimed right wing evangelicals.
Should you mention that the last two “customers” in that very bed both just died? (No, best not. Not good customer service.) We didn’t have a bed sooner because the last “customer” lingered, but did eventually die, thereby freeing it up for our current “grateful” client (a frequent flyer, well known to the emergency room staff, here again threatening “to off myself” which he knows guarantees his homeless self and significant other a warm respite from the bitter cold, winter nights forecast)!
The now openly hostile significant other and the intoxicated patient could care less about the two previous patients. Can it be that empathy for others is not their strong suit? We had the bed STAT cleaned, as a matter of fact, it is still drying as we speak to the discordant “customer” and his “girlfriend“.
“Oh Look!“, says the nurse pointing at the bed.
“Is that blood and stool on the side rail? We’ll get that wiped up.“
“There! All better.“
They should be happy now, right??!?
Not quite. He grabs the TV channel selector, switches to FOX News, and demands another cigarette.
“RIGHT FUCKING NOW!”
But, but …. we are a Smoke-Free (nonsmoking) hospital!
That will be the last “moment of silence” for awhile …
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!