Wednesday, January 26, 2000

ER Horror Story. (by the Tuna Can Man)

As you may know by now I'm from NY. Well, in NY I was a Paramedic for awhile. I've got tons of crazy stories but one that stands out is real funny and kinda sad at the same time. I was working one day, part time, for a transport company, basically just taking nursing home patients to and from the hospital. We got a call to go to some nursing home near Tarrytown, NY. When we arrived we found out it was a routine transport to a hospital nearby. Apperently the nursing home nurse said he was going in for a routine check up and they were waiting in the hospital for him.

I went to his room and began to examine him when I discovered he was having trouble breathing and his pulse was a little weak. I told the nurse and she said this was normal and he would be fine. His blood pressure was near normal and I read his file and he did have a history of heart problems. This is fairly normal of a transport but I kinda had a gut feeling that something was going to go wrong. Most nurses at nursing homes are burned out and understaffed. I again expressed my concern to the nurse who promptly told me to "take him and get the hell out of here." I said "fine, okay, whatever".

As we began to pull away from the home, I realized that already something was going wrong. His breathing became more labored and his blood pressure began to fall. Within minutes what we called "coffee grounds" (that's what they look like) began to appear from his mouth. Now bare with me, it's been a long time, but I think this is a condition called CHF. Basically heart failure. He began to choke. I screamed at my partner to go lights and siren and make it quick! I tried in vain to keep him from choking. Suction, clean, oxygen, suction, clean, oxygen. At this point I was assiting his breathing and actually began to stabilize him a bit.

My partner and I roar up to the hospital. We rush into the ER with the patient choking and these "coffee grounds" (blood, water, lung material) all over him. I'm "bagging him" (pumping extra oxygen into his lungs). He and us looked a mess. Now when a patient is this critical the procedure is to take him to the ER first. I run up to the nurse station and tell the nurse what's going on. Without even looking up from her desk, she tells me "oh yeah, he goes straight upstairs to a room on a floor" I said he's really critical, I don't even he'll make it up there. She yells at me, "Take him the fuck upstairs now." Now sometimes the ER is busy and a ER is one of the absolute wildest places, but they were not that busy!!! Like the nursing home nurse, most hospital nurses are just concerned about their paycheck and that's it!! Not all but a lot.

At this point we begin to argue but I was quickly losing. I turned to my partner and said, "Well, let's bring him upstairs." So here's where it gets funny. We begin making the trek to the elevator and again the patient begins to go "downhill". Everybody is looking at us like we're nuts! Doctors, hospital staff, random visitors are all commenting to us to go to the ER. I kinda told them what happened and also kinda ignored them to just concentrate on the patient. We get on the elevator, with regular people visiting and the patient pulls his airway out right there and starts to spit these coffee grounds everywhere. It was all kinda sureal, as we're fighting for this man's life on an elevator as everyone stared. People were shaking their heads and gasping at the site of this. The patient begins to go into some sort of seizure and begins to really spit all over everything and everyone on the elevator.

We get to the floor and I rush over to the nurse station and guess what?!? Without even looking up she says, "Oh yeah, put him into room 434." Again I tell her how critical he was and she says, "Okay fine, here I'll sign for him, just put him in the bed and go." When I reach my partner we just can't believe it. This patient was not that old, nor was he senile. He should be treated better than this. I asked my partner what to do and he said "Let's just go, it's their problem now." We stabilized for a few minutes more and left. Still no nurse came to even check him out. We figure we would get the hell out of here. Because as usually, somebody would check on him, see he was AFU and blame us. Shit rolls downhill in Hospitals! Paramedics are at the bottom. So as were going thru the ER a good few minutes later we here "code blue room 434" In other words, the patient was dying. As bad as this sounds, some nurse finally decided to see this guy and finally realized he was "Gacked" as we used to say.

As we barreled out of the ER ambulance bay, I turned around a gave the angry goodbye international sign (my middle finger) in general to the hospital and left. You know, I wonder if she even accepted the paperwork, now that I think about it the nurse may have thrown it out. They may have even known who he was! Now you may think this is the exception, but it's not! Doctors and nurses having sex in the closets. Doctors drunk on the golf course calling someone to forge their signature for a RX. Rats, roaches, stealing, and just general "burn out" feeling from the staff. Drug use, old boy network, and bitterness just run rampant among the personel. It sucks. I've been cussed out by more nurses for nothing more than asking them, "How long of a wait until a bed opens?" Do you ever wonder why we don't have a national health care? I'll tell you, doctors and nurses would lose their high paying jobs and have to do more work! That's it, nothing more. Hospitals (all employees, on all levels) fight it tooth and nail! Do you know a large percent of doctors never pay back their school loans? Now listen, not all are bad and some of this was due to the fact of working in a large Metro area but, when I went to EMS conventions, I'd ask other EMT's about this and they all admit, it was changing this way even in their small towns. I'll stop for now but I'll write another article soon about this BS system and tell you more and in more detail. Check out the web site and see that new movie with N. Cage it's very accurate!

The Tuna Can Man is a crazy New Yorker.

No comments: