When the patient is Houdini, it’s not my fault.

Most of us have been in the situation where things happen beyond our control. Well….when a patient gets the bright idea to rip out some tube or line or other very important and most often not easily reinserted piece of medical equipment….who gets the blame most often? NURSES. Now, I really do not find this to be fair. While we are the ones that are responsible for those that we care for, we cannot be at the patient’s bedside at all times. We have meds to gather, physicians to round with, charting to do, and yes every now and then we have to use the restroom or eat. Though I can say that there have been days I have not entered the bathroom door at work and I was lucky to shove in a bite or two of whatever happened to be lying on the break room table for lunch. Most of us have more than one patient as well which makes it impossible to watch each one at all times.

Anyway I say all of this because we as nurses get blamed for crazy patients pulling out their chest tubes, central lines, endotracheal tubes, and yes even ventriculostomy drains….NO nurse wants to make that call to the neurosurgeon and tell him such news. I have seen nurses in tears over this. I realize that taking a patient back to the OR on a Sunday afternoon is not fun, but it truly isn’t always OUR fault that these things happen. Most often it is that the patient is not sedated enough (per your orders), has Houdini powers and managed to wiggle out of restraints, or had been perfectly with it until they started seeing the bugs on the ceiling and decided to rip out that chest tube to use as a weapon….It really wasn’t my fault….I’m just sayin…

  • 1 Comment...Your thoughts?


  1. lipodoc says:

    Hmmm…..maybe we need better communication between nurses and doctors when the patients start getting antsy. Some tubes are obviously of critical importance – chest tubes, t-tubes, ventriculostomies – and since the doc’s not there to stand vigil, we probably all need to work together to make sure the patient is sedated and/or restrained and/or educated to prevent disaster. What about recruiting families to help? Or to have the hospital hire sitters for one-on-one observation? We talk about costs in healthcare, but these are preventable medical errors that a little money spent on the front end could prevent. And almost all of these mistakes are costly.

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