Monday, October 18, 2004

A Mistake

I'm home again. As much as I complain about this house, walking in the front door feels like wrapping up in a warm blanket. Mmmm, home.

When I left Abby was doing much better and about to come off the ventilator. She was having some difficulties after her night nurse mixed up her lines for proteins and lipids and didn't discover the mistake until 5 hours later. It meant she had far too many fats which messed up her glucose levels and kidney function tests. They say there's no permanent damage, but you can't help but wonder. Valerie was furious, of course, and from then on all changes had to have two nurses so that one could observe while the other made the change. If it had been different lines the baby would have been killed. We don't need that kind of drama.

Valerie was also doing better. She had talked administration into letting her have a cot in the room after they vetoed her twin air mattress. It's hard to believe, but they didn't have accomodations in this room for a parent to stay with their sick child or baby. The other PICU rooms had 6 foot long built in window seats for the parents to sleep on, but Abby's room had one that was only about 4 feet long. Not even wide enough for curling up on. It took a lot of hassle for her to be able to get to sleep there. They kept telling her to go home and sleep and trust the staff to take care of her daughter. She wouldn't leave her side. When the mix-up happened, the staff that told her to trust them had a hard time looking her in the face.

She actually asked to speak to the nurse who made the mix-up and told him this,
"I'm going to give you a gift. She's going to be okay and I wanted to be the one who told you. You made a mistake and I know that you're very sorry. I want you to go home and get some rest. You'll be working again tomorrow night and you're not going to be able to unless you get some sleep. If you let this bother you and play it over and over again in your mind, you will be tired again tomorrow night. I haven't decided yet if you'll be in here with Abby, but you'll be with some sick child and they will need you just as much. I think you'll be especially careful next time you work, but only if you can get some rest. Of course I'm upset and that's to be expected but Abby will be okay and that's what is most important."

She says he was crying the whole time because he felt so horrible. He had been talking to her during his shift about how much he loves down's kids and enjoys working with them the most. It was a careless mistake, but it wasn't lethal. He's a good nurse, but considering he just flew back from the Dominican after a humanitarian mission, he's just tired and should have taken more time to rest before working this night shift with such a sick child. I'm sure he'll never make that mistake again.

As for me, I'm back to the mundane. My voicemail box is full again. It is always full. I hate my voicemail. Patients call and ask to speak to Finance and get transferred to my phone (alphabetically first in Finance) when what they need is Patient Financial Services. I get all sorts of hang-ups and angry messages when I don't handle billing at all. My attempts at educating the call center have all been in vain.

Oh what an exciting work life I have.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an amazing woman your friend is. And whan an amazing friend you are to be with her at such a difficult time. I'm thankful Abby is going to be alright.

Can you change your outgoing message to indicate that billing questions should be directed to Patient Financial Services and give them a "press 0" option to get back to the operator?

Good luck getting back in the swing of things.


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I am so thoroughly impressed by your friend's handling of the situation. How very scary, and I'm so glad it worked out that Abby is ok.

As for them not willingly making accomodations for her to stay, I am so glad she stood her ground. There is no good reason to keep her out of there.

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