An ER nurse sees anything from the mundane to the insane all in the same shift. One moment, a patient may appear with a case of gas pains, and the next is an emergent case of a dissecting aortic aneurysm, so the nurse has to be prepared to treat both. Here is a list of five crazy (but true) things that an ER nurse could see in a typical day.
1. Foreign Bodies
A foreign body isn't a reference to illegal immigration, but to objects inserted into the human body that do not belong. For some reason, a dizzying array of objects become lodged in the rectum, up the nose, in the ear, or accidentally swallowed. A man once brought his son into the ER because he had a small car stuck up his nose; one hour after it was removed, the father returned with the same car stuck up HIS nose. Apparently, he wanted to see how a car could possibly become lodged in a nose.
2. Tragic Examples of Destitution
The homeless population is known to frequent the emergency room as they do not usually have a primary care physician. Their lives on the streets can be harsh on their bodies, and if they are also psychologically troubled, it can be a puzzle for providers of how to best care for them.
3. The "Ick Factor" Is High
The human body is a beautiful and amazingly complex organism. It can also be disgusting. Infected wounds, cysts, abscesses, pimples, in conjunction with all the normal bodily fluids — there is a high probability that an ER nurse will be dealing with several of these in a day. One ER nurse reminisced about the time she assisted in removing over a liter of fluid from a Bartholin's cyst.
4. People Can Be Complex
When patients with mental disorders start to get out of control, things can get interesting. Sweet elderly residents of nursing homes, for example, can experience a phenomenon called "Sundowner's Syndrome," which can lead to them acting out violently and irrationally at night. Concerned, the nursing staff might bring them to the emergency room for treatment.
5. Why Are You Here Again?
Sometimes, patients are liberal with their definition of "emergency." Their reason for admission? "Stubbed toe," "Sunburn," "Threw up a week ago" and "Almost got bit by a dog." Sometimes the craziest things that ER nurses see isn't a medical emergency, but what people consider to be one!
The ER is a crazy place, and this list barely scratches the surface. However, ER nurses have the training and the resilience to handle all of it night after night, day after day.
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