05 November, 2008
Wrong day, wrong nurse
Patients lie. Oh yes. But more on that in a moment.
Today started out quite nicely, I woke up in my own sweet time and had a nice cup of tea. A friend called round and we did the local coastal walk in the morning sunshine. Apparently I didn't draw breath for just under an hour. Well, I had a lot to say. I got to work with time to spare and so had a nice gossip with another friend before I started work. All in all it went well. The shift was due to finish at 8pm and it was all on track.
There now follows a short explanation of our discharge protocol.
Patients cannot leave the department unescorted if they have had either an assisted local or general anaesthetic. They will have had opiates/benzodiazepine drug/sedative agents and can't be trusted to cross the road on their own in case they end up under the wheels of a vehicle or fall arse over tit. All patients are informed of this 24 hours prior to admission during a telephone conversation with a senior nurse. All patients are required to provide the telephone number of the person who will be taking them home when they are admitted. This can sometimes be waived if the patient remains in the department for a miniumum of 4 hours post procedure (usually only after an ALA) and has been seen by the anaesthetist and assessed as being fit. Thems the rules.
The last patient, Sillynuts, was due to arrive in Recovery at 7pm. 7pm turned into 7.30pm but this still wasn't a problem as the patient had only had an assisted local anaesthetic (otherwise known as twilight sedation) and was due to be collected and taken home by his mother. He arrived looking bleary eyed but awake and pain free. So far, so good.
"We're calling your mum to come and get you," I told him. He looked at me with a big smile. "Oh, I told her not to come and get me. I'll get the train to Camberwick Green*. I'll be fine."
Knob. The department closes in 30 minutes. Obviously we were looking more at 8.30pm than 8 but this was a major spanner in the works. Camberwick Green* is on the other side of Sydney. There is now way this joker can go home by himself by train at this hour. He happily informed us that he had called his mother earlier in the day and told her that he would take himself home. So, in the words of Gregory House, patients lie.
I won't give you the exact speech I gave him but suffice to say he was suitably informed of my opinion on his breathtaking arrogance. I didn't use those words but I think my face might have. The anaesthetist stood at the end of the bed and smirked as I told Sillynuts that if he left and fell under the wheels of a train we would all be sued by his grieving mother and that I wanted to keep the small amount of money I had. He was told that he was staying in the hospital overnight and that was it. End of discussion.
"I've done it before," he spluttered. "I drove meself home after I had a pin and plate taken outta me foot. I felt great."
Sure, I bet you did. You were under the influence of drugs. Your car insurance was null and void and if you'd gone up the kerb and killed a small child you would have been in jail right now.
After again being on the receiving end of my thoughts he was swiftly transferred to a bed on a ward. I condidently expect him to attempt to leg it in about oooh, an hour. Here is a man who thinks he can drive a car after his body has been pumped full of drugs. There's no way he's going to spend a night in a hospital bed when he could be out there weaving in and out of the traffic.
Look out, readers. The stupid people are walking amongst us.