As a soon-to-be nurse, I am already feeling myself becoming more sensitive to trash talk about incompetent doctors and nurses. I understand that there are plenty of actual incompetent doctors and nurses, in the field, but, it seems to me, that people’s expectations for professionals of the medical field are a little off. A bit much.
So many look to doctors to fix them. To heal them. To make all their troubles go away. We expect 100% perfection out of a profession, that is run almost exclusively on human power. No computers to program to ensure consistency. Even if computers are now used to dispense medications and such, there is still a human prescribing it, and administering it. Plenty of room for error!
Humans fuck up. They just do.
The more time you spend in a hospital, the more you realize how common medical mistakes can be.
In Joey’s short life, there were a few major mistakes made with his care.
I noticed on ultrasound that Joey’s herniated bowel looked different than it had the week before. The doc said it was nothing, in spite of my arguing. Turns out, it was something, it was the bowel twisted on itself, and beginning to die. I can’t help but wonder if it would’ve been different, had the doctor realized what I was seeing.
In the grand scheme of things…it’s moot. Mistakes happen…something was missed that may/may not have made a difference.
When he was three months old he was scheduled for a routine central line change. The night before, when the nurse hung his TPN and lipids (his IV feedings), she mistakenly hung a paralytic anesthetic that is often used in the OR, to put patients to sleep. The surgeon found the mistake the next morning when he saw us in pre-op.
A mistake that could’ve killed my son at three months old, but didn’t. Mistakes happen.
Then, when he was nine months old, just after transplant, he was in for another central line change. One of the very well respected, transplant surgeons,(actually, the head of the department) did the procedure. She nicked his lung, placing the line, and his lung collapsed. It wasn’t evident until he was out of surgery. To make matters worse, his body kind of freaked out, and went into DIC…which i don’t completely understand, but, he basically lost the ability to clot. After surgery, transplant, and a collapsed lung, the ability to clot is pretty imperative.
He bled out of of every single opening in his body. Every wound he had, every healing scar, was oozing blood. The site of the recent chest tube placement, to save his collapsed lung, was pouring blood. The ICU nurse enlisted me to help put pressure on the bleeding sites, to try to get a few more hands to help. They couldn’t work fast enough that night, no matter how hard they tried. She was pushing huge syringes of blood into his body as fast as she could to keep his count up. They encouraged me to call Jake, to let him know that his boy was dying.
All of this stemming from a tiny mistake in the OR.
In the grand scheme of things…it’s moot. Mistakes happen, and he died two months later, rather than that day. For which, I am thankful.
I think what bugs me most, is that when some people (not all) do get that healing that they were expecting the medical profession to deliver them, they, then, give all the credit to God. They sings his praises, and claim that the doctors and nurses were mere pawns in his game.
Which is cool…that’s a mighty fine perspective, but, in the same breath, please don’t badmouth those same “pawns in his game” for a mistake that they might’ve made, or a diagnoses they might’ve missed.
I know I’ve got a long way to go with this, and I’m sure my thoughts and feelings on the subject will evolve, once I’m a member of the team, and see things from the inside, looking out, but for now, I say…give a nurse a break.
I’m sure I’ll need it!!