A Nurse With Attitude

Where Dark Cynical Humor, Nursing Issues, and Politics Seem to Merge

The Advantages of Unionized labor (part 2)

   I have trouble with the idiocy of any large bureaucracy. If it interferes with quality health care, I will give my best attempt at fixing it.  For the record, I’ve worked hard since I was 15. I have been working hard as a nurse since 1984.  I have never left a job with less than a stellar reference.  Except for one… The VA hospital of New Orleans Louisiana.  Now, for the record, I don’t like to name names when ranting about any person, place or location.  There are many liabilities that I tend to shy away from.  On the other hand, it has been many years since I was fired from the VA, but I still have ill feelings for that crappy organization.  For the record, I am proud of the work I do. I have a strong work ethic, and this was the first and only job that I have ever been terminated from in my entire life.

At the VA,  I was working in the Neuro ICU.  There was a patient going into ARDS (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome).  A nearly irreversible decline in the respiratory health of a patient which is usually fatal.  We were needing frequent changes of the ventilator settings of this patient to maintain a viable oxygen saturation.  The respiratory therapist was very difficult to find.  He was never in the unit and when he was paged, he took an unusually long time to respond.  We turned the patient to clean him and his sats dropped.  The doctor ordered his Fi02 (oxygen percentage) to be increased.  I paged the RT.  He did not respond.  I paged again and he still did not respond.  We were near code level and we were having EKG changes.  I took the patient off of the ventilator and manually breathed for  him with the ambu bag while the doctor made the necessary vent change.  The patient gradually improved.  Later on (about 20 minutes) the RT arrived.  I asked “where were you” and he responded,  “well, if you must know… I was eating…. and who made this vent change?”

I responded, “the doctor did this”

RT,  “He can’t do that… he knows better… did you tell him it was OK?”

Me,  “Well, the patient was going to die”

RT,  “Blah, blah, blah, always an emergency around here”

Me,  “Well actually, it was an emergency”

RT,  “We’ll see what is an emergency and what isn’t… and who can touch my vent as soon as I talk to the manager”

I was called to the managers office the next night.  Now, I know how this might sound, but I am not a racist and I don’t care what color you are.  As long as you do your job and  pull your weight,  to me everyone is the same.    Unfortunately, the manager didn’t have this same philosophy.  She had a huge chip on her shoulder and she hated all white people.  Unfortunately, I was the only white guy in the unit.  I gave my side of the story and I was articulate, polite and soft spoken.  She was bitter, angry and yelling and wouldn’t hear anything I had to say.  Needless to say, over the next week, the response time for the RT had gotten much worse.  One night, on a very similar patient incident, I went out looking for the RT.  After a lengthy search, I found him sound asleep on a stretcher in the X-ray alcove.  I woke him from his slumber and asked him to come do a vent change.  He went back to sleep and I eventually had to make the change myself.  I soon found myself back in the hot seat in the managers office.  This time with a representative from HR and the Union rep with a grievance in hand.  I turned in my incident report detailing why I was forced to make the vent change and why the RT didn’t respond.  I handed in the report and said, “but he was dead asleep… and he wouldn’t come, even after I woke him up.  What was I to do?”  The manager said, “Oh,  Rodger wouldn’t do that, you’re lying,  and if this slanderous behavior continues, we will have you up on disciplinary action.”  I was stunned in disbelief.  The manager went on to say, “because you can’t manage to give even adequate care in the ICU, we’re moving you to the ward for at least the next three months.”  I was so disgusted, I couldn’t even formulate a rebuttal.  I just walked out of the meeting feeling defeated.  (Strike one)


Strike 2 coming soon


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