That’s so gross

You would think the grossest thing that I have seen as a nurse would involve the patient.

Oddly enough, no.

I can say for sure the grossest thing I have seen is the patient’s family member(s) sleeping on the floor of the room.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAS BEEN ON THAT FLOOR?!?!?

I have walked into the room and nearly tripped over a family member sleeping peacefully on the floor. I was immediately freaked out. Like, what makes someone think sleeping on a hospital floor is safe or sanitary?

Oh, you have to get up off that floor honey.

There have been soiled linens, blood, body fluids that I can’t describe, EVERYTHING on that floor. Glare all you want but I’m not leaving you down there.

People think hospitals are far cleaner than they actually are…

Hello nightshift, goodbye normality

I am a nightshift nurse. I have been my entire nursing career. It’s what I am used to and it’s been great for me. Key word: been. I used to love being a nighshifter. You couldn’t get me to work a dayshift if you paid me extra. 

That’s changed. I’m old now. I’ve been a nurse for 7 years, that’s like 21 years in human time. Nursing ages you, quickly. I’m tired. I’m always tired. That’s the problem with nightshift, it goes against your natural rhythms. I’m not supposed to be up wiping ass at 0241 in the morning and yet here I am doing just that. I can’t just have one shift off in between nights anymore either. It’s impossible for me to get anything done because I’m so exhausted that I sleep the whole day away. I’m lucky I live in a house and not apartment because I cannot tell you how many times I have been up cooking and cleaning at like, 2330 at night as if it’s normal. When I have a stretch of days off, I fall back into a normal rhythm, up during the day and down by 2200-ish. That first shift back after a stretch off is BRUTAL. It’s getting harder and harder to adjust back to the nightshift life. I think I may be reaching the end of this “nightshift nursing” thing. Then again, my mouth is far too vulgar for dayshift so… 

Universal precautions: yes you should actually care.

You hear it constantly. Universal precautions. In fact, you probably hear it so often that you tune out the term. I don’t blame you, I am sure management has beat it into the ground. There is a reason. You have the potential to kill a patient. NO, I am not being melodramatic! What is on your hands actually has the potential to kill your patient. Besides that, you have no idea what the hell your patient has until you test them for it. How many times have you admitted a patient and come back the next day to see them on contact precautions for MRSA? Far more times than you can count I’m sure. You are doing this for them, and you.

So what exactly are universal precautions? Well, according to OSHA it’s the approach to “treat all human blood and certain human body fluids as if they were known to be infectious for HIV, HBV and other bloodborne pathogens.” In simple terms, treat ’em like they have something until you know they don’t. Trust me, it’s safer this way.

You know what to do.

  • Treat all bodily fluids as if they are infectious.
  • Gloves on before you touch your patient.
  • Eye shield if you are going to be messing around with the gross body fluids your patient decides to involuntarily share with you.
  • Hand sanitizer going in and out of the room REGARDLESS of whether you have touched the patient or not.
  • Put on that hot ass plastic contact gown when you are going inside a contact room.
  • If you have to share equipment between patients, wipe that shit off before going to the next person.

Let’s imagine you have a fresh transplant patient that is, of course, immunosuppressed. You hear a call bell, and being the fabulous nurse you are, you go and help this other patient that is dying of thirst and needs ice before the world ends. You walk in with the ice, and before you leave you make sure to give him his call-bell that has dropped on the floor. You didn’t feel the need to wear gloves because you were just getting him ice for the 30th fucking time tonight. You don’t hit the hand sanitizer because there wasn’t one beside his room. You go check on your transplant patient. You’re just going in to get a temp and turn them, that’s it. Once again, you skip out on the gloves because it’s just a quick turn. No big deal, right? Then a day later the VRE swab that was sent on ice man when he was admitted comes back positive. Great. You and your coworkers were alllll up in there. Except it gets worse. Your transplant patient is getting sicker, WBC’s are climbing, patient is feverish, now hypotensive. Cultures are drawn and guess who has gotten themselves a VRE infection too? Yay for easily spread bacteria! Despite the best efforts of your team, the transplant patient doesn’t make it. Was it you?

Dramatic, yes. However, shit like this happens. In my current unit we recently had an outbreak of CRE that could be traced back to, among other things, inadequate hand washing from staff. Not something we were proud of. It was totally unnecessary.

Don’t be that person. Don’t be the one that gets another patient sick, or even take something “special” home to the family. You know how to prevent this, keep up the good work.