Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Crazies in the ER

Usually I joke about how unrealistic the ER-type TV shows are...ERs are never that busy, that crazy, and very rarely have gun-toting nut-jobs. I know. I've been in quite a few ERs at all hours of the day, and it never happens.

I may have to eat my words today.

I worked an 11-11 shift, and my god, I am spent. I had two people in florid congestive heart failure, one guy with an infected leg...all the way up his leg, and a lady who was eating dinner in a restaurant, and collapsed, with a huge bleed in the left hemisphere of her brain. Those were just the interesting patients. Then I went to reach for a chart, glanced at the name, and recoiled in horror, as if it were a snake.

It was a patient who is what we call a "frequent flier." All the other ERs in the city know not to admit this guy, except ours. We have a few docs who have the CYA-complex, and he keeps getting admitted. I know this because he was admitted to my team back in August, and we could. not. discharge the man. He knows how to manipulate the system, he knows how to fake symptoms, he steals from other patients, he pleasures himself in his hospital room in front of nurses.....he's a disaster. Luckily, as the resident, I have the ability to cherry-pick the "learning cases," and did not go see him.

So when I heard the deafening crash from one of the other hallways, imagine my surprise to find out it wasn't him. No, this time the suicide-attempt patient, who was guarded by at least two cops, broke out of his room, knocked over all the storage carts in the hall, and invaded the room of another patient, threatening her. Then, the cops tackled him, cuffed his wrists and ankles, and the attending snuck up from behind with a shot of Haldol.

So, to all the Doc-dramas out there that I take such great pleasure in shouting at while my husband rolls his eyes at me, today I eat my words. Today. I can't promise that when Grey's Anatomy comes on tomorrow I won't shout "that's not how you do it!" at the screen, but for tonight, you were right.

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