Saturday, May 31, 2008

L & D Concierge

I know I have said it before, but, it takes an amazing person to be a nurse in general, and an L&D nurse in particular. This week, as I sat at the computer behind the nurse's station, back to the counter, signing off charts and awaiting an epidural to be placed in one of my labor patients, I got a small glimpse into what ridiculous requests the nurses (trained and skilled professional people) had to stop their work and fulfill with a smile.

This day was fairly busy, 3/4 of the rooms on the floor were full (LDRP and post surg beds). There were 3 in labor, several postpartum ladies with babies, and a few post-op patients, triage was steady in and out, oh, and there were only 4 RNs. The deluge started with about 4 family members standing shoulder to shoulder at the front counter, not saying a word, but not moving, either. After about a minute of silent staring at the back of my head, I turned and asked if I could help them. They replied that they needed a nurse in room 10 (laboring patient). I checked the board, found the nurse hanging medications in another room, and let her know that the patient needed something. I went back to signing charts. Moments later, room 10's nurse came back out of the room, obviously flustered. When I asked what had happened, she sighed and said the patient was fine, but room 10's family needed some cokes. She handled it far more gracefully than I would have, because I would have been inclined to tell them where to stick their drink order. From there it just got better. As I sat/observed for that hour or so I heard requests of the nurses for:

~ socks for a postpartum patient (who had a scheduled induction and should have packed her own fragging socks)
~ cups of ice for kids to *play* with
~ pieces of paper and pens
~ putty to hang up a sign (um, WTF?)
~ a request from a visitor to a different floor for a *free* binky, since they forgot to bring their own for their child
~ extra diapers and a *case* of formula *to take home*
~ for the nurse to launder some one's own personal baby blanket that got a teeny bit of spit up on it
~ directions to the hospital from another state
~ a phone book
~ 7 cokes and 4 cups of coffee
~ a toothbrush
~ for the nurse to "re-do" a baby girl's hair because mom didn't like the *bow* color
~ for a nurse to take out a patient's garbage
~ and (the kicker) the snide comment to a nurse sitting to feed a "boarder baby" whose parents were sleeping, "Oh, I'd love to do what you do! Sit and hold babies all day!" GAH!

Not to mention beeping IVs, meds, labor checks, and other, more legit responsibilities. It was like I was observing a full service concierge desk at the Hilton instead of a hospital. As if being a responsible medical professional was not enough, they must be the waitress, janitor, Wal.Mart, Goog.le maps, Off.ice Depot, hairdresser, and babysitter. The worst thing, though, was that I don't think that I heard, in any of the above requests, a "please" or a "thank you." Unbelievable. So, remember to thank your nurses, people, and maybe, just maybe, go get your own damn coke.

32 comments:

jenkatt said...

There's a set of books out there called "Fluff my Pillow, Bend my Straw". Written by a nurse about what actually goes on with patients. Yes, we're suppose to be everything and remain happy to do it. I once had a friend of a Mom ask me if I could get her a tray from the cafeteria, she was hungry. 1. She wasn't a patient. 2. This was in the NICU, we don't do trays. She was seriously angry with me for telling her no and saying she was more than welcome to go downstairs and buy a tray and eat it down there.
Thanks for noticing what we do!

Dragonfly said...

Good grief!!!

noble pig said...

Ridiculous! Just unbelievable. I always felt guilty just asking for pain meds or something medically necessary let alone a coke! Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Uh, I'd just say no. Outside my scope of practice. But that would probably get me a write-up. Ah well. Another reason I could never do your job!

Anonymous said...

People just boggle the mind, don't they?

Melissia said...

I have to say that this was one of the reason why I retired. It was no longer enough to take care of the patient, but we are now required to "take care" of the family members and their visitors. When I had to get the boyfriend out of my fresh c-section's bed (with his boots on, under the covers) I realized that maybe it was time to go. No one in the family saw an issue with him being in the same bed with a 16 year old who was one hour post-op! "They have shared germs before" was the response when I explained about infection. Not since she had a major surgical procedure. My patient was still getting pericare, was passing clots etc. Time for me to go! I really enjoyed the extras with patients but it became all about the sense of entitlement that the family and visitors had.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! it's so nice to be recognized.. We have taken to asking what the patient needs when they ring the call bell, some will tell you exactly (I want ice, I want an epidural, etc.)Some will do this:(Keep in mind that this is a non-active labor pt who hadn't even started her induction yet)

Secretary answers call light: Yes, may I help you?

Pt: Could you send my nurse down?

Secretary: Can she bring you anything?

Pt: No, I just need her.

Secretary: Ok, she'll be right there.

So, I truck myself down to the very last labor room on the unit and ask the patient what she needs and she asks me TO CHANGE THE CHANNEL ON THE TV!

Hello!! this is what your call light, (that I explained to you HOW TO USE WHEN YOU WERE ADMITTED) is for!

PLUS the FOB was still in the room! Apparently it takes an RN to change the TV channel

April said...

Good Lord! I always felt bad calling the nurses to do anything for me. I'm not sure I would have been so gracious.

Mostly I had great nurses....but.... there was the one nurse that didn't believe me when I said I was in pain after my c-sect (the epidural pump wasn't working) and I'd still like to wring her neck. Good thing her shift was over and the new nurse took one look at me and knew I wasn't kidding.

3carnations said...

Ha. That's awful. All I really wanted was a cup of ginger ale. I was so thirsty I felt like I was going to shrivel up. I had to wait what seemed like forever after my c-section for something to drink.

Nine (+) Texans and friends... said...

I 100% believe it. I've had babies in 8 hospitals and heard many similar requests. so many people think they are at the Hilton instead of a hospital. After baby #6 I overheard a new grandfather DEMANDING that the nurses get his daughter strawberry ice cream. HIS daughter had just had a baby (hmmm...like she would be on PP for anything else) and she wanted strawberry ice cream and dammit, one of you better get her some! NOW! I was flabbergasted. They kindly gave him directions to the nearest convenience store (across the street from the hospital)

I do my darndest to stay out of the nurses hair.
Let's see, I was in the hospital for 6 days with my most recent baby. I was only a patient for 48 hours, my baby was in the NICU for the 6 days and I was a boarder. In that time... we asked my L&D nurse where the 'nourishment center' was (and nothing else from her but typical L&D care/support), I hit my call bell once in PP (because my IVAC was beeping), I requested pain relievers twice when my nurse was already in my PP room for an assessment, I stopped by the nurses station once on the way back from the NICU to ask for more bottles for my pump. All I asked of my NICU nurses was a)information and b) bottles for the pump.

Is it surprising that I get along great with my nurses and in the rare case I DO ask for help with something I don't wait a long time?

LDRN said...

thank you thank you thank you!!
From a high-risk OB L&D nurse who hears even crazier requests/comments....
like "I wish I could sit around and eat" (ummm, I am eating at the desk because I am charting, too), or everytime we ask if we can bring the pt something when we answer the call light they say no, but wanted something immed after walking into the room (ugghh, we're just trying to save some time/steps!!), and my fav "I wish I could only have two pts/people to watch/things to do" (I work high risk OB. These pts are 1-1 or 2-1 care. I chart on them every 15 mins, or sometimes more frequently).
People just don't *get* it sometimes...

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should bring their own damn Coke and not their own damn coke. ;)

What happened to people being self-reliant in this day and age? It didn't sound like one of those requests (except for the socks) had anything to do with an actual patient. I would be embarrassed to ask for ANYTHING in a hospital if I wasn't the patient or a visitor having a legitimate emergency.

audrey said...

This is *exactly* what visitors are for, to fetch something for the patient. I rarely bugged my nurses, they're so busy I feel horrible if I needed to call them.

I'm a nurses aide in a nursing home and the floor I've been working is basically rehab and short term but when they put their light on it's usually a med request I can't fulfill or for something as silly as my bed has a tiny wrinkle (at 330pm). In a 5 minute time frame I had 6 people wanting meds, 1 needing changing, 2 wanting blankets, 3 wanting the TV off, and 1 wanting water.

It's worse when family is around.

James said...

Luckily our patients were never that demanding. Nurses have a rough job - no question about it.

Amanda said...

I hated bothering my nurses in L&D, even for legit things; like I wasn't allowed to get up to pee alone due to blood loss, and I just hated having to call her to help me get up. I didn't ever ask them to bring me a drink (most offered when they came in to check on me), although I did ask one to research why I didn't receive breakfast round about 10am.

Anonymous said...

My Mom and stepmom were both L&D nurses. I remember them complaining about crazy families, but more about "those screaming women"!My Mom (deceased now almost 18 years)was so patient with her screamers. I vowed to never scream while in labor and delivery with my babies. I'm on the verge of delivering my 6th baby soon (yes, I really have lost my mind - my 6th girl,too!), and I have honored my mama every time. Those long-suffering nurses! Of course, what I heard both my mom and stepmom enjoy about their work was the doctors that really cared for their patients and did their job with integrity and skill. Keep up your good work!

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of nurses in my family, and this is why I'm not one. My grandma, great-aunt, and step-mother are nurses. I heard all their stories of getting to clean up adult feces and being yelled at by angry patients. I have two cousins currently who are nurses, one in L&D. One other was in L&D but moved out to become a mortgage broker. Anyway, the L&D nurse does have a heart of gold and she does say it's awful sometimes. She says it's worse when she works nights because she has to train the newer nurses, she's the "senior" nurse. So, on top of all you listed, she is also called by her other co-workers because they cannot do routine medical duties and are afraid they will mess up. I'm glad for her patients that she's there though, she says some women have avoided c-sections because she only suggested they move (the young nurse had them flat on backs in bed and she had them get up and move and baby turned and was born).

Nurses are amazing, and some more than others!

Blessings!
Dawn

Doulala said...

Ugh, and to think I'm actually getting ready to go back to school to become an RN so I can work in L & D.

Charlene's Beloved said...

THANK YOU... for noticing. ~Erin

Anonymous said...

i love this post. i just said today "if all i did was nursing care, i might actually enjoy my job" but it's all the other junk we do - my favorite part is when i'm heading into one patient's room with meds, dressing change supplies, tube feed, etc in hand and another patient's family member will ask me to fill the water pitcher. I feel like screaming - can't you see that I'm in the middle of something - this isn't the Hospital Hilton, FILL YOUR OWN DAMN WATER PITCHER. 4 years of education to be a gloried waitress

danielle said...

Amen! Amen! Amen!
And that was just one observational period...not every day!

Now if you could just make our docs read this and wake up to the real world of the nurse!

CNH said...

Good grief, that's horrible! :(

Theresa said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for realizing and understanding! After the day I just had its nice to know that there are doctors that realize. We just lost a 25 week baby in a super stat c-section and, while dealing with that, had another patients family member get upset because we didn't jump fast to enough to answer the call light for their rquest for a baby name book beccause they needed it "right now" (cervidil induction). i didn't know whether to cry harder or laugh hysterically.

amy said...

I know several have already said it, but I'm saying it again. THANK YOU for noticing what crazy things we are asked and expected to do by the patients and their families.

insane mama said...

Fine, I won't continue my medical nursing degree, I'll just stick with my windchime business cause I think it is starting to take off quite well

sarai said...

Part of the issue with L&D and PP is that they tend to be money makers for the hospital. Moms typically get to "choose" what hospital to deliver at, so the whole family birth unit has pressure from the hospital to provide stellar "customer service" for those insured patients (and their families, and friends that might also get pg) that choose to have their baby there. Everyone wants to have the nicest most family friendly family birth.

I work in outpatient surgery. It's the same kind of thing there, except we generally don't have actually ill patients, or patients tragically bereaved to distract us from providing that all important ginger ale with ice and a cute little turkey wrap.

Sarai

Jody said...

Ohh Yes Bless You that you noticed. Peeps are amazing these days. I have a family call me into the room the other night. I had 2 laboring patients and was the other one's room. After about 5 mins I popped in to see what they wanted. They said it like this..."Oh well YOU didn't come and there was a spill on the floor, but it's ok; we cleaned it up". LOL omg. I thought do they call the neighbors or the mailman when they spill something at their home? To think that they would call me in to clean a spill Blew my freakin mind. But, I'm a good girl. I just swallowed and said thank you. I wanted to tell them not to call me for things They can do to help the mother, but I know the hospitals stance on these things. The patients (and familys) are always right. SO I stuffed it.
But I thought to myself "You lazy bustards LOL".

Anonymous said...

Thank you for noticing us :). At least in L&D there aren't gross old men who ask for the cute nurse to give them a sponge bath. My favorite one was when I had to give an old fat guy his bath (no NA available) and he asked me to spank him afterwards. sigh. I have 7 years of higher education for this?!!?

Jeannie said...

Great BLOG, I just had a patient's friend ask for a bedside table... We said, is her's missing? The response was, no, we just need an extra one. ummmmm that would be a NO.

My favorite is when the Babby Daddy asks for the remote and mom's not even in the bed yet....

Have a great day!

TJWriter said...

I just found your blog from a link from www.wombwithin.com. It's awesome.

My L&D nurses commented that I was an easy patient. I just didn't ask for anything that I could get for myself or have someone else do something for me.

Other than the nurse there for my actual delivery, I had the best nurses, and it made my experience a nice one.

Shana said...

Crazy! I loved most of my nurses and was just happy when they kept my pitcher full of ice water and brought my pain meds to me when I needed them.

Anonymous said...

I've never been in the hospital for a birth, only an appendectomy. But the nurses were ANGELS. Expected to handle everything from serious drugs to ice chips. I used my call button once...my IV blew and my hand looked like it belonged to mickey mouse, and I freaked. But asking for all this other trivial stuff? I never would have thought of it! People are unreal. UN-real.