Trau·ma  Junk· ie  ( 'trau-m&  'j&[ng]-kE) n. Slang
  1. One who has an insatiable interest, devotion or addiction to responding and assisting people with serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident.

Low Patient Census = Happy Trauma Junkie

I was working as unit secretary last night on the overflow unit, and the night was pretty slow. Just as I had finished everything (around 0300; the shift ended at 0700) and was about to go crazy from being so bored, one of the RTs came up to me and asked if I was busy. Of course I replied that I wasn't.

"Cool. I know you are starting the program this fall, and I need help holding this confused patient's arm down so I can draw an ABG and I'm going to give you a crash course." I don't know how many of these I've seen drawn over the past few years, since around 0400 when I usually take vital signs, the lab techs are usually drawing blood, and I most often run into a frantic RT that is trying to get all of their ABG's done before the docs make their rounds, but I never really had someone explain it to me step-by-step.

What I've found out is that for the (typically) small amount of time it takes to drawn an ABG (what, about 2 minutes?) it is really quite complicated. Find the artery, feel the pulse, and hope it is a pounding pulse because this particular patient had a faint HR and the RT did a blind stick, etc. etc. He was even nice enough to walk back to the department (2 floors down), run the test, and show me what all the different lab values mean. I really learned a lot.

After going over the results, there was another patient with a trach that needed to be deep suctioned (I believe is what he called it.) Again, seen this done many times, and you guys (respiratory therapists) make it look so easy--which it really could be, I don't know--but I never knew so many steps went into it. And then, of course, when the patient finally coughed after several suction attempts and saline sprays, a nice foot-long trail of mucus shot out of his trach. I've never seen phlegm travel so fast, lol. I'm most thankful that the RT told me that I needed to meet to the patients side, or I would have been covered in sputum.

"If I'm ever on your unit and you're not bored, I'm more than willing to show you different things. Maybe you'll get floated to ICU some time and I can show you a little bit about the vent settings."

Just when I thought I was getting tired of working the night shift...............

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