Sunday, October 26, 2008

How To Be Taken Seriously by Your Triage Nurse

Okay, I know this is a bit of a chronological jump, considering I was last writing about my recent odyssey. I'll get back to that soon.

I am back at work now, and since returning I have encountered an unusually-long parade of ER patients who have displayed, shall we say, less-than-sound judgment with regard to the way they chose to conduct themselves in ER Triage.

I am a man of great forbearance and restraint. I have never told any patient that he/she was a slack-jawed, mouth-breathing idiot before- even if the patient's actions clearly prove such to be the case. But some people make it very difficult to restrain the urge. Happily, only a rare few have ever caused me to fervently wish that dope-slapping was approved as a therapeutic nursing intervention.

For the sake of brevity, I'll cut to the chase:

To all of the exasperation-inducing patients described in Paragraph Two of this entry, and to all potentially-exasperating patients, I offer the following pearls of advice. If you follow these maxims, I guarantee that your name and the word "idiot" will never be uttered in the same sentence when you are mentioned in verbal handoff report by your Triage Nurse.

1: Do not come into the ER with a chief complaint of "high blood sugar" and then sit, in full view of the Triage Nurse, gulping down a can of Coca Cola and eating a candy bar.

2: Please do not use "I have (insert disease name here)," "Googled," and "My symptoms" in the same sentence.

3: Do not sprint full-tilt boogie into the ER from the parking lot (having been observed by the Triage Nurse for the 100 feet of your medal-winning dash), burst into the waiting area, and yell at the registration clerk in a full sentence that you are having a heart attack and need morphine.

4: Do not ask the Triage Nurse for any sample packets of Tylenol, Ibuprofen, antibiotics, the "Morning After Pill," Valium, Ativan, Zanax, Methodone, Oxycontin, Surgi-Lube, or medicinal marijuana.

5: Do not tell the Triage Nurse that you don't want to see a doctor but just want to have your blood pressure, blood glucose, lung sounds, or that "icky lump" in your bikini area (I am not kidding) checked by the Triage Nurse. You have to be registered before the Triage Nurse will listen to you say anything about that "icky lump" in your bikini area. Otherwise, go to the fire station or your clinic. And wash your "icky" frigging hands.

6: Don't get out of your car, walk ten feet to the wheelchair your relative provides for you, sit down in the wheelchair, and then go limp and pretend to be unconscious the remaining twenty feet to the Triage Desk. (Yes, I did see you peeking, you rascal!)

7: Don't ask for a five-gallon barf bag, be given one, pull your face out of it to spew all over the Triage Room, Triage Computer, Triage Floor, Triage Tech, and Triage Nurse- and then say, "Sorry, I missed."

8: Don't refuse to wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. If you do refuse, then don't be surprised if you are thus regarded on the same level at which any other mindless, disease-carrying vermin would be.

9: Don't talk on your cell phone while being triaged and tell the Triage Nurse to "shush!" for interrupting when you are asked about your migraine. And don't get angry when you are ushered out of Triage to finish your phone call and the Triage Nurse moves on to the asthmatic 3-year-old who just came through the door.

10: Don't walk in and tell the Triage Nurse you were involved in a rollover motor vehicle crash an hour ago when all you are really looking for are narcotics. You will be slapped into a cervical collar and duct-taped onto a very uncomfortable backboard faster than you can say "I'm never using this frigging story again." Just tell the truth. Honesty serves two purposes: 1) We can laugh at you without you having to go through all that unnecessary discomfort, and 2) You can haul your drug-seeking carcass over to the neighboring ER without any telltale patches of tape-induced depiliation on your head.

11: Please be sure to leave the ID bracelet from the neighboring ER that you just left on your wrist when you arrive at our Triage. This enables us to contact that ER and find out why you were dissatisfied with the service they provided.

There you go. Have a safe Halloween, think before you drink, avoid anyone who says "Hey, watch this!," and stay inside any moving automobiles.