One of the reasons our ED runs so smoothly is because we’re like a family. There’s very low turnover in our department and there’s a waiting list for nurses who want to work down here. I like to think it’s because of the high quality emergency physicians that work there. Everyone knows how everyone else works and a lot of things get done without anyone even having to ask. We know how to take advantage of each others’ strengths and doing so improves patient care.
Even though we’re a great team, just like a family, we pick on each other. My kids do it about their little idiosyncrasies – like purposely changing the TV channel just before Pokemon or Wow Wow Wubbzy comes on (actually I’ll change the channel myself just because I can’t stand that Wubbzy song).
One of the nurses has this habit of saying “or whatever” at the end of every one of his sentences. We razz him about that … or whatever. One secretary has been “going to quit” smoking for about 5 years. She catches flak about that every time she puts her coat on for a break. Another nurse has internal temperature regulation disorder and has to keep the temperature in the ED colder than a meat locker. So there are temperature wars with the thermometer.
Then there’s the nurse with partial accurate spelling disorder.
She’s kind of a recent grad, so she’s still learning the ropes. She has trouble spelling some medications and spelling some diagnoses we commonly use in the ED. She’s already learned not to ask me how to spell things because she never knows if I give her the right answer. Then she gets embarrassed and looks up the words in the medical dictionary. Then she gets ticked off when she can’t find them. Then she gets someone else to ask me how to spell something and hopes that I don’t realize that it is really her that wants to know how to spell it. Doesn’t work.
One of the multiple Medical Marijuana Advocates (my pet name for the “Joint Commission”) mandates for “patient safety” is that every time a patient comes to the emergency department, you have to write out a complete medication profile. Now I’m not actually sure that this is an actual Medical Marijuana Advocates mandate, but I can’t look it up online because the only way that you can find their mandates is to buy them. Getting sidetracked. Sorry.
So the nurse with partial accurate spelling disorder picks up a patient with low risk chest pain, gets the history, and starts writing out a patient’s medication list. After she had finished, I grabbed the chart and went in to see the patient. The patient brought all of his pill bottles along, and one of them included the over-the-counter supplement at the right.
Only the pills at the right weren’t listed as being one of the medications he took.
Instead, the nurse had listed some other medication … “Flaccid Oil.”
Unfortunately, I can’t actually post a picture of the medication list the nurse had written out because when I walked out of the room laughing, she grabbed the list out of my hand and scribbled out what she had written – once she found out what I was laughing about.
But danged if, after checking the bottle, I didn’t have an itch on my arm. When I scratched my arm after handling the bottle, I must have gotten some pill residue on my arm and my arm went “flaccid.” Then I scratched my lip and my lip wouldn’t move. I started having slurred speech. The horror! What would I tell my wife if I had to go to the bathroom?
By the end of the day, most of the staff must have gotten Flaccid Oil residue on themselves because everyone seemed to have random episodes of periodic paralysis – arms, legs, necks – every time the nurse walked by. Man that stuff is hard to wipe off.
Yep. I love my job and I love the people I work with.
If you ever hear giggling in the ED when you’re a patient, chances are that it’s something like this.