Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Well, I have to say that I still feel in kind of a daze.

Last night at work there was a code in ICU–the first one that only included the nurses and doctor that were in ICU at the time.  A patient had just been intubated and then her heart rate started falling and then her heart stopped beating.

I froze.  I mean, I did what needed to be done…there were two other nurses in the room–one giving meds the doctor ordered and one doing chest compressions, as well as a respiratory therapist who was bagging the patient, and the doctor who was running the code (telling everyone what to do…what meds to give, when to stop compressions to see if there was any effect).

My role was putting together the meds (epinephrine and atropine) and running for anything they needed.

It was over in about 15 minutes.

The patient did not make it.

A person who had been talking to her family less than half an hour prior, was now dead.

The doctor was mad.  He didn’t expect this to happen.

One of the other more experienced nurses said, “I had a bad feeling about the intubation.”

I was just in shock.

I couldn’t believe what had just happened.  I always thought that I would know what to do during a code, what with all the studying for BLS (Basic Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), but when it came right down to it, I was scared.

My mouth was dry, my hands were shaking, I couldn’t think.

I thought about the code all night long.

When I came home that morning, I collapsed into bed and thought about it again.

I dreamt about it.

I woke up and immediately started thinking about it.

And I realized that what I felt was NORMAL.

Someone’s life was in our hands and that is a scary situation, especially when I have not had much experience with codes.

And I immediately started thinking about what I could do next time to make the code run smoother.

One thing that was not done well was recording what was happening during the code.  And there was a lack of syringes, flushes, IV tubing–all of that needs to be right there in the room when a code is called.  I want to try doing compressions even though it scares the crap out of me.

Nursing is scary business.

But it is in facing our fears that we become better nurses and help our patients.

I hope that when I encounter my next code I will be just a bit more calm and a lot more focused.

One thing that this code taught me is the importance of addressing code status when someone enters the ICU–especially if the person is competent to make their own health care decisions.  I want to know that what is being done is what the patient wants.

Whew.  What a night.

I’ll never moan again when I have to be re-certified for BLS and ACLS…now I know that my knowledge and quick thinking could possibly help save someone’s life.

And that is a GOOD THING.

Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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