Sunday, July 15, 2007

IV Therapy Escapades - Part VI

In which I learn the importance of clearly differentiating unresponsive vs napping.

In real life, I'm a NICU nurse. However, I spent a few years filling in a shift here and there as an IV therapy nurse. I learned many things in that job.

I was frequently laughed at because I talked to ALL the patients the same way - except maybe the little kids. I explained everything to everyone. Even the comatose. You never know if they can hear you.

I started a lot of IVs on unresponsive patients. Most were quite elderly, most were noticeably debilitated. Not all of them. This man was in the age rage of most of the unresponsive patients I'd seen. He didn't respond at all when I spoke to him and gently shook him. He didn't flinch when I placed the #22 catheter in his arm and secured it. Not even a little bit. Not a sound. Not a twitch.

OK. Move to the other arm to remove the old IV. Gently start to peel back the tape from one rather hairy arm. Yes, I was careful to go with the direction of the hair, so as not to leave a bald spot. I even used alcohol to loosen the tape before I started peeling. I leaped back out of the way as the tape tugging on his hairy arm brought him from unconsciousness to snarling almost instantly.

"Can't a man get a little sleep after surgery?"

After I apologized and he realized that he'd slept through the restart, he let me finish removing the tape and the old IV catheter. That's how I learned not to be so gentle when trying to rouse "unresponsive" patients.

Part VI of an occasional series

Part V
Part IV
Part III
Part II
Part I

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