Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Swine flu..

I've been a nurse for over 5 years and I got my first patient complaint.  Over the swine flu.  This patient said, and I quote, that I was "the worst nurse of all time".  WOW!  Of all time...  That is saying something since there has been nurses in this world since who knows when.  And I'm sure that the nurses that have gone to jail for murdering people are pretty bad, sooo...

Here is how it went down:  This woman came in complaining of fever, headache, general malaise, etc.  She looked miserable.  I was sure she was sick.  I asked her if she had taken Tylenol for her fever.  I rechecked her temp.  I brought her water.  The problem was that she was convinced she had swine flu.  I took a nasal swab that tests for Influenza A.  If the swab is positive for flu A then we send a second swab to the Public Health department so they can test if for swine flu.  Her nasal swab was negative.  Which means she does not have the flu, let alone the dreaded swine flu.  (BTW we haven't had any positive flu swabs at our hospital yet.)  For some reason this woman was still convinced she had swine flu.  She demanded Tamiflu.  I told the MD that the patient had a lot of questions that I couldn't answer, that she was demanding Tamiflu and I felt the doc should go talk to the patient.  Instead the doctor just handed me a prescription for Tamiflu to give to the patient.  So I went into the room (for the twentieth time) and gave her the prescription.  "Are you going to fill this for me?" I told her we could not but that she could get it filled at any pharmacy.  She said, "No pharmacies carry this.  This prescription is useless!"  She threw the prescription on the floor.  At this point, I had had it!  I told her "You are right!  The prescription IS useless!  Because you don't have the flu!!!"  I went on a tirade about how the media is causing hysteria and that if she educated herself then she wouldn't be so anxious.  I told her that if the media covered the 36,000 deaths a year from regular influenza we would be in a panic every winter.  I further went on to tell her that she should get over herself, I was sorry she felt bad but she would get better and she wasn't going to die.  (Pant, pant)


The NEXT DAY I got called in to my supervisors office.  The woman had written a scathing complaint letter.   She claimed that I had called her a bitch to the other nurses.  My supervisor asked, "Did you say something to the other nurses?"  I couldn't remember.  I might have.  I've called a lot of patients bitches under my breath.  Did I this time?  I really couldn't remember.  

The best part was that I was given the opportunity to read the letter that was sent back to her.  It was written by the MD that runs the ER.  He didn't even mention me in the letter.  He told her that she was given "the standard of care" by the ER.  He did not play into her hysteria, thank god.  I feel bad that I lost my cool but this guy had my back!  

Is there a patron saint of nursing?  Because I need someone to have faith in when I am tested by these people....