Friday, March 23, 2012

Trial By Fire

  Last night was my first night of orientation, meaning my patients all mine. I wound up with a fellow who came in a few days ago a very sick man and ended up vented and a lady who has been with us for a couple weeks now and was really looking more and more like a Hospice candidate if it wasn't for the family wanting everything but compression's done.

  The fellow began my night with a sudden high fever that required a call out to the Doc on call who laughed at the charming notion that a nurse was calling him for a Tylenol order. After he rounded and teased the newbie things seemed to settle into a decent flow of the night.

  Until my lady went down hill and fast. One minute I'm on the phone with the lab and the next I'm trying to get the code cart open for Epi.  I would love to say that we heroically saved her, but not so. Part way through the code the family got the idea that the meds we were pushing were not going to save her and requested us to stop. The thanked us for all our efforts and let her go.

  I somehow was left at the end of the night feeling like I had not been on my A game and if I had the night would have ended differently. I'm not sure what I have could have done, even the Doc had spoken to the family and let them know that it was best not to continue with life support. I just guess I have that feeling like that should not have happened on MY shift. 


  1. Sounds like you did exactly what you were supposed to do. Does your unit offer a debriefing for the stress r/t the death of a pt?

    You are an ICU Nurse, you rock! Have faith... I do!

  2. Everybody gets a trial by fire. Mine was manning the phones in a major corporation after 911. In yours someone had to decide to let someone die. I choose mine over yours, but you did what you were supposed to do. I don't know if I believe in the British idea of stiff upper lip, but I think we both acted within our scope. Don't keep questioning your role.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement guys! I think I feel better with a nights sleep under me. I think now I know that we did everything we could have, but when you walk away from a flustering evening you feel like you could have done more.

    My hospital doesn't have debriefings but our CNO has an open door policy for just those sorts of things, and he has been super supportive and so has the rest of the team.


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