Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Scene: Me, sitting in front of patient's room in the ICU, vigorously writing admission orders and an H&P. Middle-aged nurse sitting a couple feet from me, looking over a chart.

Me (to the nurse): Excuse me, do we have a temperature on this guy?

Nurse (looking up at me with an irritated expression): (sarcastically) No, I haven't gotten one yet since I'm kind of busy admitting the patient.

Me: A'ight (medical abbreviation of all right), carry on.

Nurse (a minute later, looking at the telemetry machine): (growling angrily) He's having PVCs (premature heart beats, often caused by electrolyte imbalances)!!! I want labs!!!!!!!! Who's going to get me labs!!!!!

(Nurse stands up and stomps furiously into room, I follow)

Me: (politely) Excuse me?

Nurse: (angrily) I need labs, what labs??!!!

Me: Actually, we already know that his potassium is low. I just wrote an order for some potassium supplementation.

(Nurse angrily turns around, looks at me, opens her mouth with a snippy comment on the tip of her tongue. Suddenly she halts, and her eyes grow big).

Nurse: (pleasantly and apologetically) Oh I'm so sorry, I thought you were a medical student! Oh, I feel so bad for talking to you like that. Let me start over, I'm Laura (extends her hand). Now doctor, would you like me to give 20 or 40 milliequivalents of potassium? Oh, I'm so sorry for being so rude. I didn't notice you were wearing a long white coat!

Me: It's all right, no problem.

Medical student standing behind me with mouth hanging open: Silence

So apparently treating me like garbage would have been OK six months ago, but is unacceptable now.


Blogger Dragonfly said...

Story of my life in emergency it seems sometimes (not with everyone, but somehow after a long night shift you remember the ones like that, as I am 7 months before being able to elicit that bug eyed response).

4:22 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home