Saturday, June 19, 2010

ER Stories

Like most specialists, I hate being called to the ER. But last night I got dragged in.

I was, however, quite lucky. Because the friendly ER staff had arranged a play for my entertainment.

It was a busy Friday night in the ER. I found a computer and phone to work at, and began writing a note. As I scribbled away, some paramedics came in, wheeling a well-dressed woman in her 30's past. A nurse told them there were no rooms available, and to put her in the hallway, across from where I was working. I heard the paramedics talking. Lady who's allergic to oregano, but accidentally ate some at a restaurant. Brought in with complaints of shortness of breath.

Though this all, Mrs. Oregano didn't move. She lay there with her eyes closed. Breathing calmly. She didn't have an oxygen mask on. A blood oxygen saturation monitor reading showed her to be at a perfectly normal 97%.

After the paramedics walked away, the awesome ER nurse went over.

(curtain rises, play begins)

ER nurse: "Are you okay, ma'am?"

(Nothing. No movement. Nurse checks pulse, blood pressure, and glances at oxygen monitor)

ER nurse: "Ma'am, I know you can answer me."

Mrs. Oregano's eyelids fluttered open. "Where... where am I?"

ER nurse: "You're in the emergency room."

Mrs. Oregano: "Oh my God! I can't breathe! They gave me Oregano at the restaurant! I told them not to do that! I could have died!"

ER nurse: "Do you have any pain?"

Mrs. Oregano: "I CAN'T BREATHE, DAMNIT!!!"

ER nurse: "You're breathing fine, your oxygen saturations are normal and..."


The ER nurse, showing remarkable calm, restraint, and an iron ability to keep from laughing hysterically, walked away. She went into the doctor's area and said "We have a winner..."

(curtain falls)


donna said...

No wonder some nurses are jaded!
People like this really give people
who are truly sick a bad name. What
part of the gene pool do these folks come from? I guess that is the point, they come from the non-human

WV= mednurso (how appropriate!)

LittleVet said...

We get the other end of the scale:

Mrs Little Old Lady: My dogs not eaten for two days now and I am finding it hard to give her the pills she takes for her heart.

LittleVet: Well maybe you had better bring her down so we can check her out.

Two hours later the patient presents in rigor mortis with four frusemide pills stuffed inside her cheeks.

instant student said...

Well it is hard to breathe with your head up your a..

@Little Vet: That poor old lady! :(
Maybe she just didn't want to realize that her furry friend was gone?

Anonymous said...

Dr. G- Baa-haa-haa! You never fail to make me laugh.
@ LittleVet, OMG. Bless her heart.

The Mother said...

You have the best ER stories.

lbparker said...

Mrs. Oregano obviously doesn't have enough work to do. Is her life really so boring that she needs to stage these little theatricals to get attention? Or does she truly believe that the universe revolves around her?

Its a pity the nurse legally can't slap her around the head and tell her to stop wasting ER resources...


OMDG said...

@ Dr. G -- Truly classic presentation of foodus neuroticus.

@ Little Vet -- AWWWW!!!! Poor LOL and doggie!

Have Myelin? said...

I just found your site and you crack me up!

Moose said...

Recently as part of an online survey I was required to watch a video that came with commercials. The video was some "doctor" talking about how to combat stress, who said, "You need to remember to breathe. People forget to breathe all the time!"

Really? They forget to breathe? How do you talk to them?


RehabNurse said...


Sounds just like my people who tell the doctor they have had trouble breathing when all they did was scream (at the tops of their lungs) all night.

And the O2 sats were pretty--99 to 100%

Hello, people!

Claude said...

I often stop breathing when I read your posts. Also big tears rolling down my face. Should I go to ER?

Sparky Barksdale said...

Those are the people I want to put on BiPap. (Me, yelling over the machine: "How's your breathing now, ma'am?")

ShelliB said...

Perhaps a visit to the psych ward would have shocked her into "breathing" again?

JewelD said...

Sounds to me like the lady was hoping to sue the restaurant.

Anonymous said...

Um, ah, Jewel, I think that's sort of part of the whole deal here. Be careful, with "insight" like that, you might end up as the focus of a Grumpy post.

The Observer said...

I was waiting for the immortal line I have heard from ER personnel and I have uttered myself:

"If you can scream, your breathing is fine."

True, but frequently bad for Press-Gainey scores.

ERP said...

"and she returned from stage left carrying a syringe containing a B-52".

Angela said...

and that is why I could never be an ER nurse, I would have retorted with, "Well you're clearly dead, so no need for a doctor, you're going to the morgue!"


Anonymous said...

I saw that same patient last night. But she got up and left before being seen.

Sandra said...

ERP - An airplane in a syringe? Must have been one HUGE syringe! LOL

Rothase said...

@Sandra and ERP- isn't a B-52 a combo of Ativan and Haldol? I have a friend who does psychiatric intake at the county jail. She named her Great Dane Haldol- we call him Hal.

Spook, RN said...


I don't even know where to start - the boatloads of patients who present with "neurological symptoms" who deny drug use (naturally!) and who also have positive tox-screens for every known drug known to mankind...

I particularly remember the "status post-manacles" - severe iron deficiency, wot?

Grumpy, as much as you hate being called into an ER/ED for consults - please KNOW that you'd be LOVED in my ER/ED (Not that it's gonna happen anytime soon - out emergent Neurology consults are done via Tele/TV).

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