A Non-Emergent Case.

And I’m back in the Emergency Department.  One might think I am accident-prone, which I am, but I am here today to see another nurse. It’s a little after 8:00 am (actually, 8:21 to be exact) and I’m waiting to interview an ED nurse about to come off his 12-hour overnight shift.

We were supposed to meet at 8:00 am, but he seems to be running a bit late. That, or the hard-of-hearing woman at the front desk didn’t page him like she said she did. I hope she did. Nurses are starting to filter out of the ED. Two giggling women in light blue scrubs walk through the waiting room, towards the sliding glass doors, one of them exclaiming “I need to go home!”

I bet. Last time I was here I only stayed for a few hours and was completely beat by the time I got home. I’m amazed this nurse even agreed to be interviewed–on camera no less–in post-night-shift condition. Now where is he…

8:35 am. I’m debating whether or not to have him paged again. Is that legitimate? To have him paged a second time just to make absolutely sure he got the first page?

The sign at the front desk is keeping me in my seat. “Patients are seen based on urgency, not necessarily in the order that they arrived. Thank you.”

I can see how my video-interview project for my blog might not be considered an emergency. Five more minutes. If he’s not out by 8:45 am, I’ll have him paged again. Until then, I’ll just engage in some light people watching.

When I first arrived in the only partially-filled waiting room, a Latina woman wearing a face mask was sprawled across the three seats next to me. Swine flu? I just got over pneumonia. I make a mental note to sanitize my hands on the way out.

In the row of seats ahead of me there are three young guys, doing their best to look like mini-thugs, with their baggy jeans and strategically shaved facial hair. Two of them seem to be there to help the third, a large black boy with what looks like a nose bleed or some other kind of nose-related condition. I wonder if it’s unPC of me to say “mini-thugs” and to think this injury might be somehow fight-related.

Sometime after 8:45 am. Okay. I did it. I paged him again. The woman at the front desk was surprisingly indignant on my behalf. Maybe she didn’t see the sign about non-emergent cases. “I’m going to put that you arrived here at like 8:20.” 8:00 am actually. “You let me know if he doesn’t show up.”

9:00 am. He might not show up. I might have been stood up by an Emergency Department nurse, at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with a pile of heavy camera equipment, after riding all the way here from Cambridge on a bike that is way too big for me (I traded with my roommate this morning).

9:10 am. I am now scrolling through my mental rolodex to think of who else I am going to interview for this project. After all, I’ve already interviewed a BWH nurse for this blog… Hey! I think I just saw a face I recognize from Boston Med! I hate Boston Med.

9:15 am. It’s now a full hour and fifteen minutes after we were originally supposed to meet. I now understand why it could be a good idea to keep the Emergency Department backed up. The non-emergent cases will eventually just disappear.

Now to sneak past the indignant woman at the front desk…


3 thoughts on “A Non-Emergent Case.

    • As predicted, he had a “hell of a night,” and was late getting out. The real story here is why the Brigham charges it’s night-shift workers full price for parking after 9am…

      I actually met the friendly and gregarious Michael Lage, 57, last night in the ED, and he set me up with Nina to follow psych patients: http://bit.ly/aZV10m

      Thank you for commenting!

  1. Pingback: A Watched ED Never Boils. « The Human Side of Hospitals.

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