Monday, July 19, 2010

Crazy People

Hey, nobody died this weekend.

I almost killed two different people, but that would have been on purpose, not out of incompetence.

Interesting things happen when medical personnel get medical treatment. Things can go downhill very quickly, and boy, did they ever.


Went to get my blood drawn in Pomona at this place called Lab Corps. Routine blood draw that the doctor ordered for me: fasting glucose, cholesterol, thyroid hormones, liver function, etc. I get there, and see that since the waiting room only has 5 chairs, there is a crowd of people waiting out in the courtyard, sweating in the summer heat (one of whom was a visibly pregnant woman). I sign in, and the guy tells me it will be an hour. He should have said two. So after an hour of me reading the LA Times, while the kids play with a bottle of bubbles, I park the kids inside the waiting room, where I have the 3 of us sit on the floor, so that the little old ladies can sit in chairs, and after half an hour I ask the guy how much longer.

He pulls my paperwork from the ‘Losers who got tired of waiting, and left’ bin and says, “Oh, I called you ten minutes ago.”

“No you didn’t. I’ve been in here for half an hour.”

So he takes me in the back, and wants my insurance card RIGHT NOW. They didn’t have a sign in the lobby that says, “Please Have Your Insurance Card Ready,” so now I’m desperately rifling through my wallet. I haven’t had any food, water, or coffee, and it’s 11:30. I haven’t even brushed my teeth, because they don’t want you to swallow toothpaste and get a false positive on your fasting glucose. Aaargh!

I give him my insurance card, sign some forms, and find out that now I’m going to hang out in the inner waiting room, where I now see all of the people who used to be in the courtyard. I invite any Hungarian who lived through Communism to come and try this out. There is no difference between Lab Corp, and when I had to wait in line at various Communist Hungarian government offices in the old days.

Finally, this young girl in scrubs calls me to a blood-drawing chair. Here comes the part that will cause you to never go to the doctor again, for the rest of your life:

She has me sit down, then stands in front of me, looking around for something. I saw a blue-top (Pro-thrombin Time) vial on the ground, under the seat, so I asked her if she’s looking for that.

She says, “No, I’m looking for…” and she makes a stretching motion.

I say, “Tourniquet?”

“Yeah. Oh there it is!” She bends over, and reaches down to my left side. I bend over to see where she’s reaching, and stare incredulously while she pulls a tourniquet out of the red-bag biohazard trash can. Yes, there was trash in the red bag.

I went postal on her.

I screamed at the top of my lungs, “You are NOT using that tourniquet on me!!!”

“You want me to get another one?”


So, still wearing the rubber gloves that she had on when she reached into the trash can, she opens the drawer, and starts rummaging for a new tourniquet, and yes, god damn it, she is touching everything with those used gloves.

So now I yell at her, “You’re wearing the same gloves! Take off those gloves!!!”

After she put on new gloves, and found a new tourniquet, Little Miss Sunshine poked me with a needle (yes, she wiped my arm with an alcohol pad), and—believe it or not—it was the best needle stick I’ve had in years. I literally didn’t feel it.

I waited until she had all of my blood vials labeled, then proceeded to rip into her like a Marine Corps drill instructor into a long-haired hippie in a Grateful Dead t-shirt.

Here’s a thought: When I have had no food, water, or coffee since yesterday, don’t mess with me.


I groaned when I got a request tonight to do an abdomen series on 70 year old lady who is an in-patient. I pictured somebody semi-conscious, curled up in the fetal position, with a major Code Brown going on in her room. To my pleasant surprise, I got to her room, and found her in an animated conversation with her visitor, another old mare. They informed me that they’re retired RNs, and proceeded to cuss up a storm.

Wow, I thought my friend Irene the Mammo Tech has a potty mouth. These two put her to shame.


So, I get her into a wheelchair, no problem, as she could have walked to Radiology, had I let her. I had to stand around while they cussed at each other, while the patient wrote instructions for her fellow sailor—I mean nurse—to get to her apartment, and feed her cats. As we were leaving her room, the alarm on her i.v. pump started dinging, and despite the fact that she’s a nurse, she couldn’t get the pump to shut up (This is actually not surprising; you have to get trained on whatever weird brand of i.v. pump your employer uses when you start a new job at another hospital). So by the time we get to the Radiology Department, she starts freaking out about how her i.v. isn’t running, and her hep-lock is gonna clot, and they’ll have to start a new i.v. on her, and there’s no fucking way she’s gonna let the goddamn idiots in this shitty little hospital (Her words, not mine!) do that to her.

I tell her, “Look, we already have the KUB and the Upright Abdomen, let’s just do the CXR real quick.”

She lost it. Went into hysterics. Said I don’t understand (Actually, I do understand: she’s a cancer pt with a Hx of chemo, and her veins suck. As a Nuclear Med Tech, I’ve started a lot of I.V.s on people like her. A lot.). Then she crossed the line. In front of 2 other Radiology employees she said, “You’re not a nurse. You’re only an x-ray tech!”

I think if I had killed her on the spot, I would have had no problem getting off with a temporary insanity defense. No jury would ever convict me.

I took her back to her room.

The truth of the matter is that the cxr isn’t all that critical on an abdomen series—especially when they already have a history on the pt. Problem is that in this digital age I can’t do like the old days when a Radiologist actually parked his/her ass in a chair down the hall, you handed them sheets of film, and had a chance to explain what’s going on. Now they sit at home on their sofa in their underwear, looking at ultrasounds, CT, and x-rays on their laptop, making big bucks while I sweat my ass off (The little hospital where I work has seasonally-adaptive air conditioning: it’s cold in the winter, and hot in the summer).

So, basically because there’s no supervisor and no radiologist around, it’s less hassle to just get the damn cxr. An hour later, I push the portable machine to her room, and ask her if I can do it. She says, “Yes,” and while I’m setting up, her phone rings. She ignores me, and starts screaming and cussing at her friend who is at her apartment, feeding her cats. I stood there, stared at her, and decided that I’m done. I put the portable back together, and left her room without saying a word.

When I got back to Radiology, I wrote “Pt refused cxr twice” on her printed request, and sent the 2 abdomen views over the internet to the Radiologist.


Dan W. said...

I'm glad you didn't post this until today, because I had a blood test on friday - and I would have been freaking out if I'd read this first.

Shannon said...

OMG! Did she understand what was wrong with taking anything out of a biohazard bag and using it? I am always amazed at how some people are allowed to work in the healthcare industry!!!