View Full Version : Tales of the ER (I am not a good patient!)

02-07-2008, 12:33 AM
I am a nurse, and work on a unit, not the ER. But I had to go to the ER today for SEVERE back/side pain. It took 2 hours for me to be taken to a room, meanwhile having SEVERE pain (comes and goes) in the waiting room, doubled over, being very loud about the pain I was in. Luckily, it was short lived, but still, how can you let a patient be in that much pain!?

When I went back for my second set of vitals in triage (once an hour.. now nice) my blood pressure was nearly 170/90! I am 24... shouldn't that set off alarms? After some tylenol for my apparent fever (i'm sorry.. my heart rate was also in the 120's... that isn't just caused by fever!!!), they gave me a room.

I peed in my cup, and when I got back, a doctor was there to see me... I thought, how great! I'm getting seen so quickly!

Not so lucky.

It took me an hour to have anything done to me, and that was AFTER I walked to the front desk and asked if I was going to be seen by a nurse. I sure hope our ER (same Company... HCA) isn't like that. After a nurse coming in, asking me if anyone started an IV on me (I said no, no one has even been in here for an hour), I get an IV with fluids and pain meds... Too bad my pain was gone but oh well. They draw my labs... more waiting. We wait for about 2 hours to get a Doctor to see me, telling me what he thinks (passed a Kidney stone... which I figured), and sent me home with some pain meds if it happens again (and to go back to the ER for a CT... not that ER!).

Then, it takes an hour for this stuff to be written, and I, again, go to the front desk and ask for it. Another doctor has to find my doctor to get it. It turns out, the charge nurse had it. Why? I don't know.

Another thing that bothered me was that when my IV was finished (I stopped it myself) I had to use the restroom. I called for him to unhook me (yeah... i tried to be a good patient) the nurse never came, so I unhooked myself, walked myself to the bathroom (good thing all I got was Toradol!) and came back. I saw the nurse in the hall and pointed to my blood filled IV and told him I needed a flush. I mean.. were you NOT going to come help me? Seriously. He came in and flushed it, and that was it.

Not sure what would have happened if I were actually in pain.. probably nothing, or if I needed help to the bathroom.

I am not like that nurse. I try to have all my calls answered within three minutes, or if I can't, I get someone else to check on them for me. Seriously... I want to work in that ER, because I saw more nurses sitting than working. And I know how these things work!

Anywho, I am home, after being there a total of 7 hours and 15 minutes. I have some meds for pain if it comes back, but they believe I passed a small stone, since I don't have any pain anymore.

Hopefully it stays that way, because I can't handle that pain again! I would like to ask for pixie dust for that.

Thanks for my rant!!

02-07-2008, 06:29 AM
Wow, what an ordeal. So sorry you had to go through all that and I hope you don't have any more pain. :pixie:

02-07-2008, 08:02 AM
Morgan, sadly, that seems to be the norm in the ER these days. I don't know about you guys in Texas, but it is peak census here. We are HCA as well. Last weekend I went down to the ER to see a friend. There were people sitting on the floor and there were rescues lined up outside with non-critical patients. It was crazy.
My DH works at another ER in town and it was just as bad. But he tells me stories about the RN's there. They don't do anything, they leave the techs to do all of the work..so everything backs up!
I am glad to hear that you are feeling better. I know it is awkward but nxt time try going to your hospital ER..you may get treated a little better.
I don't know if this will help you feel any better, but the wait was 6 hours to be seen this past week. Jax has been insane these past few weeks. We had the chief of medicine up on our floor triaging patients to go home so that we could move patients around.
Take care of yourself and get rest..you don't want to wind up back there again!

02-07-2008, 08:08 AM
I refuse to go to my ER. I don't like how its run, and I don't like the nurses there. I will just pay more and go to a non-HCA.

There weren't a lot of people there. There were MANY empty rooms, and a lot of nurses doing anything. I wouldn't care being called the wrong thing, as long as they saw me! My nurse was in my room maybe 3 times in the 5 hours we were in a room!

The worst is letting me be in that much pain.

I am sending an email or letter to someone at that hospital, saying how bad the experience was. I know ERs are bad, but I don't think they would let you be doubled over in pain yelling. Sure it was just flank pain, but that isn't always a minor thing!

02-07-2008, 08:55 AM
hey there, sorry about your bad experience. i'm an er nurse in ohio and can say that it is much better at my hospital. yes, there are busy times, but the longest i've seen anyone wait in the waiting room (after triage) is 1.5 hours. (this was for cold sx) i know most of the nurses where i work will usually bring someone straight back if they are in obvious pain. ( we can usually dx a kidney stone based on that pale color the pt has:( then a nurse or tech will start an iv and draw blood, run fluids wide open. we tell the md and if they can't see the pt right away , they will usually order toradol . (usually no narcotics until they see the pt) this really expedites the pt care, since iv is in, med given, blood in lab. i know sometimes it can get crazy in the er, esp if there is a code or trauma, but it sounds like the nurses weren't busy. that's just not right!! i think you should definately consider working in er, maybe if the other nurses see your work ethic it might make them change theirs. again , so sorry about your experience.

02-07-2008, 10:14 AM
I'm sorry for the experience you had at that ER, Morgan. I can imagine how frustrating it was, especially feeling as bad as you did. :(

In my last job as a hospital resource nurse, I often went to the ER to take care of "holding" patients (patients waiting for available beds on the regular units). It gave me the opportunity to see how it operates, the good and the bad. For the most part, the nurses in that ER ran their tails off taking care of the revolving door of patients. There were a few system glitches (IMO the ER triage in most hospitals leaves a lot to be desired), but most ER nurses that I worked with were as compassionate and efficient as they could be under the circumstances. Having been in nursing for 20 years, I think the true purpose of emergency rooms has been lost (or changed, if you want to look at it that way) over the years. Instead of being for emergent situations, they have become walk-in clinics for many people, especially the uninsured, who lack basic preventative care to begin with. The ER of the hospital I work at is operating at peak capacity every day at this time of year; in fact, they (and 3/4 of the Houston area ER's) are on drive-by status most afternoons and evenings.

Sorry for going on my :soapbox:, but this is a problem that really needs to be investigated as a nation-wide problem, as is evidenced by Morgan's story.

02-07-2008, 10:33 AM
Having been in nursing for 20 years, I think the true purpose of emergency rooms has been lost (or changed, if you want to look at it that way) over the years. Instead of being for emergent situations, they have become walk-in clinics for many people, especially the uninsured, who lack basic preventative care to begin with.

TOTALLY!!! The last time we were at an ER, my father had gotten punched severely in the face and possibly had a broken nose. While he was waiting there was also a gentlemen lamenting the fact that he had been waiting for two hours to get seen for his.... TOOTHACHE!!!!!!!! Then he finally just up and left.

I've had to go to the ER a few times myself. Once was in April '02 and apparently there was some kind of flu going around because the hospital was overbooked and the ER was overrun. This was the worst pain I was ever in. I had severe back pain, nausea (I threw up a bunch at home but not at the ER, maybe that would've gotten me seen faster), I could hardly move my neck and had a headache so bad I could hardly see. It was all I could take not to just sit there hysterically crying the whole time (I was 16). It was close to an hour before triage saw me. After they talked with me and my parents, they called me back again almost a half an hour later and then spent an additional 15 minutes trying to get me to admit that I was sexually active and could possibly be pregnant (I wasn't, and was actually at the end of my cycle at the time!!!!) After that I was seen in maybe another 20 mins. I was placed on a gurney in the aisle with no privacy. I was hooked up to an IV fairly quickly, but it took a little while for the doctor to come see me. Once he did they shot me up with morphine and that was that. All said and done we were still at the ER 6-7 hours, getting home after 2am. Oh, and their diagnosis was that it was either a kidney stone or kidney infection (no scans or anything, and my urine sample was tainted because as I said I was at the end of my cycle) and same as Morgan, they sent me home with pain meds and that was that. Thankfully I ended up being ok but man what an ordeal.

02-07-2008, 01:14 PM
Having been in nursing for 20 years, I think the true purpose of emergency rooms has been lost (or changed, if you want to look at it that way) over the years. Instead of being for emergent situations, they have become walk-in clinics for many people, especially the uninsured, who lack basic preventative care to begin with.This walk-in clinic theory is so true in my area as well. Many folks will go to the ER for problems that they have been experiencing for days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years. What drives them to decide that they just have to go to the ER just then is beyond me. I'd much rather see my own physician in his / her office for many of these problems. In turn, I think this trend sometimes quickly jades the staff and they become desensitized to the needs of the patients who are there for a true reason. Sorry you had such a bad experience Morgan - unfortunately, it seems to be the norm nationwide.

02-07-2008, 01:19 PM
Boy, I know how you feel! I have had 3 kidney stones in about 5 years. Worse than labor in my opinion. I luckily hit the ER last time at a slow time, so I was taken right away. The 1st time I went in there was maybe 3 people there waiting. Before they registered me I had to been taken into a room for blood pressure and temp. The nurse was in there talking and laughing with someone while I was outside the doorway basically doubled over and holding back throwing up. She would look over. Finally my husband told her to wrap it up or else. I felt bad because usually he isn't so abrupt, but we were not sure at the time what was happening to me. The person that came out of the room went to wait. Not sure what they were there for but apparently not pain, broken bones, heart attack nothing. Come to find out this person was put next to me. All that was seperating me and her was a curtain so we could hear everything. The doctor saw her first, wanna know her complaint! She thought she ate a bug! I am dead serious. Here I was in excruciating pain and this women who they could not help anyway was being seen first. Crazy. Only other complaint in many trips was one time I was having severe chest pain and shortness of breath. I am not one to run to the doctors or ER, even though I end up there, LOL. My husband took me in and they did not have any more rooms left. Busy night. I was put on a gurney in a hallway and kept getting pushed closer and closer to the automatic door. No one was with me at the time, my husband was giving info. We laugh about it now, I thought about rolling right out the door and down the street, I am not too sure I would have been missed! I was hooked up to oxygen the the hose did keep me attatched but I had to keep scooting myself and grabbing onto the wall. I guess the wheels were not locked??

Anyway, hope you are feeling better! Kidney stones are awful!

02-07-2008, 01:42 PM
I wish our trips to the ER were 6-7 hours. I take care of my elderly aunt and every once in awhile she has chest pains and gets scared (since sheís on her 2nd pace maker) and we go to the ER. I have been twice within the past year. The first time was 12 hours, the second time was 10 hours.

The first time they didnít have any room left except for the trauma room. Of course a few hours into it a trauma came in and they LEFT US IN THE ROOM while they were stitching up some guy. The separated us with a curtain but we could still hear everything that was going on. I donít do good with blood and stuff (I could never be a doctor or nurse, I have a HIGH respect for you guys!) so it was so traumatizing for me!!!! After they got done with the trauma they decided to admit my aunt. I thought ďwhy couldnít they decide that and wheel her upstairs before we had to sit through the trauma?!Ē

The second time another person in the waiting area got tired of waiting and started throwing chairs into the walls.

Here is some pixie dust your way in hopes that you donít have to go through that again and that you get all better soon!!!!!

02-07-2008, 01:54 PM
My Dad was a volunteer EMT and always told us to call an ambulance (if the situation warranted it) instead of just walking into an ER because you would be seen right away. Apparently that isn't the way anymore. My Mom broke her leg (she's in her 70's) three years ago and went in by ambulance. Yes, she was put into a cubicle at 10am, but no one did anything with her other than x-ray until 6pm that night. And it was after 10pm that she finally got into a room and was given some toast and coffee.

I went in by ambulance a couple of years ago after being doubled over in pain all day. Got to our ER around 8pm, had my vitals taken, and then got dumped into the waiting area until after 1130pm. I was doubled over in pain and crying. Turned out to be pancreatitis and I had to have my gallbladder out.

All turned out okay in the end for both cases, but I think the ER's are turning into walk-in-clinics too. Where do we go w/ major emergencies now?

02-07-2008, 03:28 PM
:pixie: hope you are feeling better and there are no more stones.
I understand your frustration w/ the ER. I had my dad @ the ER 2 weeks ago and it took 7 hrs to get admitted. The census has been really high w/ the flu etc. it's a bad time of year not to mention the abuse of the system.
My ex was Dir.of Pharm @ a hosp and they had problems w/ their own employees using the ER instead of their own MD. Reason was it was free to go to the ER.
I've also seen a lot of abuse by some of my own clients. I had a woman who was making her children sick b/c her husband was abusive and she could escape to the ER. Then it's also easier to get an OPC @ the ER. When we have a child abuse case many have to be documented by an MD and it's easier at the ER but not always successful b/c they are too overwhelmed and don't want to be involved. It's amazing that they can release them before we can drive across town with the paperwork. So all suffer.
Hope you stay better :pixie:

02-07-2008, 03:48 PM
Sorry you had such a rough time. Hope youíre feeling better. I reckon Iíve been real blessed in that I never had to go to a hospital for any kind of treatment until I was in my late 40ís. I had appendicitis a couple of years ago, and went to the ER @ Harris HEB, which is literally right down the street from my house. They took their time, I guess, but I wasnít in any big hurry to get cut anyway. They made three little holes in me and took out the offending organ and I was home the next morning. Everybody there was real nice to me, though. About a year and a half ago, I had to have my right shoulder overhauled, the rotator cuff thing. Same hospital, again, everybody was good to me. It takes a long time to heal up from that particular surgery and I couldnít use my right arm for months ( and Iím right handed ), I learned the difference between sympathy and empathy. I used to walk right past somebody with a disability and think Ė thatís terrible, somebody ought to help them. Now I wonít walk past, I wonít even ask if they want help, I just help them because I know how it feels. Maybe a prerequisite to working in the ER should be going through a simulation of being a patient?

02-07-2008, 06:39 PM
Wow, you guys have horrible stories. Right before I was called back, there was a man who was heaving so badly, it was making people sick. Did they do anything? No, whoever got him from the car left him at the registration desk while his wife parked the car. No one went to see if there was something wrong. I mean, this dude could have been throwing up blood, and no one went to check until triage.

Too bad a hospital employee who passed out got seen before everyone. He had low blood sugar. They let him go back and eat pizza.


I agree, ERs are becoming clinics for those with no insurance, and, sadly, those patients went and were seen and left before I was able to be seen. How does that go? There were people that were there less than 10 min that were taken to triage, and never came back. 20 min later, they were all walking out, papers in hand w/ prescriptions. All the while I was yelling and rolling in pain.

Makes me so mad.

So far, I'm pain free. I'm a little sore, but its getting better. I am working tonight, so I am going to try to take it easy. Thanks for all the well wishes everyone!

02-07-2008, 07:43 PM
Glad to hear that you're feeling better. Not glad to hear about your ER experience.

In 2005 I was a frequent flyer in my hospital's ER. Once I've gotten seen by triage, it's usually not too bad. And since I usually call the doctor on call from the practice I'm being seen, it seems to help things move along. Lucky you that you could heplock yourself and visit the potty. I've always taken Mr. IV Pole with me. :rolleyes:

Dakota Rose
02-07-2008, 08:11 PM
When we lived in CA, every time we had an ER icident, it sounded a lot like your experience. I remember one time a friend of mine who had AIDS went to ER b/c he was very sick (ended up being pneumonia) and they left him in a wheelchair in the hall for 5 hours! He was shivering with a high fever and nothing.

Back home here in ND, we've taken DS to ER once. From the time we parked the car until the time we got back into the car, it was 65 minutes and that included a steroid treatment for severe croup. It was amazing. We were seen by the nurse, a PA, a doctor and the respiratory therapist in that time. Now that's service!

02-07-2008, 11:11 PM
I am really glad you are feeling better. We have had both good and bad experiences in the ER. In October my MIL passed away from a stroke. We called an ambulance and instructed them to take her to the nearest hospital which is 5 minutes from our house. The nurses had a discussion amongst themselves about how it was ridiculous that she was not taken to the hospital that her pcp treats at (30 minutes away) and all of this with my dh and his sister standing at the counter answering their questions. They talked like my dh was invisible. That being said, my mom and I brough my brother to the hospital for shortness of breath. I am not sure of what you would classify the hospital but it treats those without insurance so the wait is usually extremly long. My brother was taken straight to the back and received great care. Sadly he passed away during openheart surgery but he could not have received better care at any hospital.

02-08-2008, 12:14 AM
Lots of :pixie: on the way to you!

Sorry about your bad experience in the ER!

02-08-2008, 12:28 AM
It sounds like you were a good patient to me. I, on the other hand, am not.

I used to have episodes where my heart rate would go up to 220 beats a minute. I wanted to get an ablation done, so I went to the ER to obtain an ekg while it was going on. Of course, they wanted to push adenosine on me, and I told them no. You should've seen the shocked look on their faces. :jaw::funny:

02-08-2008, 07:46 AM
I hope you are feeling better!