One evening on the night shift, I got stuck working in a pod by myself. Most of the pods in this ER had 8 beds, two RN’s and an ED Tech. I got stuck working the one pod that had just 4 beds, so no second nurse was needed and we were short Ed Techs, so no tech either. It made for a very long night, as I was holding most of my patients as they awaited a free/clean bed in the hospital.
One of my patients had been in the ER for many, many hours. He required an extensive workup which took several hours. Then, he had to await doctors orders to go to the Unit. This usually didn’t take too long. A doctor would come over to the ED from the Unit to evaluate the patient and then write the admission orders. Only on this night, there was a delay.
The patient and family were wonderful, and very understanding. I kept them informed all during their stay, but I was getting frustrated with waiting on the doctor.
I checked with our unit staff and was assured that he had been contacted. I spoke with our ED doctor, and was again assured that they had spoken. He was expected to arrive very soon. I let the patient and family know that situation.
30 more minutes passed. No doctor. I called over to the Unit to check on the situation. Turns out they had a patient going South and the doctor was at bedside. My patient and family were again, more than understanding.
Another hour went by, and I went in to apologize again to my patient and to see if there was anything I could do to make him more comfortable as we waited.
In order to get into the room I had to open the door, of course. I open the door, pushed it up against the wall and I leaned on it a bit while we were talking. The patient looked worried or upset. I assumed he was starting to loose his patience with the wait. That was NOT the case.
“Sir, I am so sorry that you have had such a very long day with us here in the ED. I am not sure what is keeping this doctor at this point. He is new to our hospital, and maybe he isn’t sure of our process. I will go have our staff contact him again, “I said to my patient and family.
The patient looked ill, well more ill than he looked before. He also continued to look very worried and nervous.
I continued to stand there holding the door, trying to determine what was happening with my patient. Something just wasn’t right.
Finally, the patient and family pointed and stared at the door, but didn’t say a word.
I was confused, but slowly realized that they wanted me to look behind the door.
I stopped pushing the door, and let it come back from the wall, only to find a person of short stature standing behind the door. This person was also wearing a doctor’s coat and a name badge designating him as a physician.
I had inadvertently shut the new doctor behind the door and had been squishing him against the wall, pinned and unable to move.
I thought that I might actually die. My face turned bright red, I started to sweat, I felt like I might vomit. I was so embarrassed. I thought, “How on earth can you recover a situation like this?”
The doctor walked out from behind the door and introduced himself to the patient and family. He didn’t miss a beat. He apologized for being so late. The doctor then proceeded to start his evaluation of the patient.
I apologized for holding him captive behind the door and ran out of the room. As I stood in my nurses station, I contemplated the idea of just leaving and never returning. Certainly I could find employment at any number of fine fast food establishments.
After seeing the patient, the doctor came out of the room, and gave me the written orders. I again felt such embarrassment as I stood there. I apologized again, practically manic at this point, and thanked him for the orders. I assured him that I would get the patient right over to his bed. Trying desperately to make up for my faux pas by showing him that I really was a kind and considerate nurse, not the complete idiot that he had met earlier. I added that we would see him shortly in the unit.
He said, “Not if I see you first.”
So, anyone else ever do something so embarrassing during a first meeting that there was no way to recover? I would love to hear about it!