When Supernurse Comes Calling

This post at Crass Pollination got me thinking about the whole health-care-worker-as-family syndrome, you know when a particularly difficult family member turns out to be a RN. And always from a critical care specialty — or so they say, but I wonder — so we need to shake in our boots.

The other day I had a 22 year-old guy, drunk out of mind, and topped up on something else probably, whose mom came in all aflutter and doing the “Why aren’t you doing something?” routine, which always involves a lot of aggressive staring and muttering under the breath, as well as the occasional vocalization about the gross incompetency of the staff.

So what would you like us to do?

“Blood tests. He needs boluses, boluses! Are you considering dialysis?”

Aha. A clue. Turned out distraught mommy was Supernurse from a Big Downtown Hospital Emergency where, you know, they really know how to treat patients properly. And so it went. Finally, she started carrying on about Drunk Son’s low BP — as son was waving the becuffed arm with in the air.

Surely, I said, in your role as Big Downtown Hospital Emergency Supernurse, you know that an elevated BP cuff will produce a falsely low pressure?

A pause.

A long pause. You could see the wheels turning.

“Well,” she huffed at last. “That has nothing to do with it.”

“Enough,” I said. “You need to give me the space and the professional courtesy to do my job. Or leave.”

And that was all that was needed. Supernurse suddenly became human again. Sometimes family members who are health professionals need a reminder that when they come to emergency, they are family. And they need to act as family. The RN cap and Supernurse attitude are best left at home.

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