Chapter 7: a surgeon loses his mind

My last shift at the hospital was….ummmm, interesting.

It started around 2p, when I’m doing my rounds. I go into the room of a post-op patient. He’s struggling a little to breathe, but in his defense, he up moving around. I check his vital sighs and they are our of range. Heart rate elevated, respiratory rate elevated, oxygen sat lower than it should be. Something was off.

I let the nurse know that something was off with this patient and she sort of dismissed my concerns and told me if I was concerned, I could call the surgeon myself.

I went back downstairs and mentioned my findings to Lloyd. He agreed to come look at the patient. We go up together and assess the patient again. He looks worse, but is still up moving around, preparing for discharge.

Lloyd agrees to stay with me as I call the surgeon since its my first time doing it.

I write down what I’m going to say.

“Hi, I’m calling about Patient [Name}. You preformed [type of surgery] yesterday. His vital signs are [vital signs]. I calling because he’s short of breath and diaphoretic in addition to his vital signs.”

I see the RN I reported the vitals to in the background, laughing.

The surgeon replies YELLING–and this is a direct quote–“Who the fuck do you think you are calling me about a patient. I wrote discharge orders on him this morning. Why the fuck is still in the building?”

THE YELLING through the phone can be heard everywhere.

“Aren’t you a fucking nurse. I write the orders and you follow them.”

From somewhere deep down inside, I manage to not break down.

“Actually, I’m not the nurse, but I am a member of the care team. I reported the finding to the patient’s nurse, and she chose not to do anything. Upon reassessment, the patient had decompensated further. And that’s why I called you.”

And I the schadenfreude I felt when I called her over, “Excuse me, it’s for you”.

MORE YELLING occurred over the phone. The RN furiously scribbled new orders. Her eyes shot daggers in my direction.

I made a beeline for the elevator. Chris joined me.

“Bold move, Cotton.” I don’t know why Chris has started calling me Cotton, but he has “That surgeon is an asshole. Did you really tell the nurse about everything and she didn’t do anything?

‘I did. And she didn’t”

“Good job. You probably saved his life. Sounds like a pulmonary embolism to me. He’s probably going to call me for ‘medical management’ and I’m going to tell him to go fuck himself. Because I can. He needs to learn he can’t speak to people like that and still get what he wants. That surgeon has lost his damned mind.”

“But you did good” Chris looks at me a little too long. I shifted my eyes and wondered how an elevator that only travels between the ground floor and one level up can take so long.

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