STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

The secret A&E nurse’s diary: ‘He stands 1cm from my face, saying he will kill me’

A casualty nurse describes a week of stark contrasts, from helping a 79 year old man whose lips have turned blue to being confronted by a violent drunk

Sunday 7am – 7.30pm

Sundays are notoriously busy in A&E. GPs are closed, and there has been no movement out from the wards so there are no free beds in the hospital. At the start of my shift there are already 83 patients in the department. People are waiting to be treated in the corridors and it’s like sardines. My heart sinks. I’m in charge of ambulance triage – as soon as the ambulance pulls up outside, I have 15 minutes to get the patient into a cubicle and take over from the paramedic. I have targets to achieve. For every breach, we are fined. It seems unfair, especially when 10 turn up at once.

I hear one of my drunk patients shouting and run to find him ripping off his monitoring, throwing thousands of pounds worth of equipment across the room. I ask what he’s doing and he comes and stands 1cm away from my face, telling me he is going to kill me. He reaches into his pocket but before I know it, one of my colleagues has restrained him up against the wall.

Monday 7am – 7.30pm

Today is a day of stark contrast. I see a 20-year-old woman who describes symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Her GP prescribed her antibiotics five hours ago. She says they’re not working.

A few minutes later, a 79-year-old man walks into A&E. His lips are blue. He says he rolled over in bed last night and has felt short of breath since. I take him into resuscitation and later find out he suffered a collapsed lung. He should have phoned an ambulance.

Click on the link to read more of the secret A&E nurses diary

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/22/casualty-nurse-diary-nhs

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Filed under: A&E, ,

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