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Patient Care

A Tale of Two Nurses

We get all manner of “medical” folks presenting on airplanes these days.  From the EMT student who manages a stroke to the PhD in Engineering more interested in free miles than the broken arm presented to them when the crew asked “Is there a Doctor on board?”

Recently we had a few runs that showed me the wide variety of medical training available to our nursing friends.

The first call was for a possible seizure on board the plane.  While responding we are told that a nurse is with the patient and will meet the medics at the door.  Well, gee, I hope so.

As the aircraft arrives we are met with a conscious, alert, oriented, ambulatory and very embarrassed patient.  The patient claims he awoke from a very intense nightmare and was shaking, but awake.  The nurse, who repeatedly made sure to tell us about her 24 years in the ED, proceeded to tell us about a “confirmed post ictal period” that included crying and wanting to get up and walk.

Of course the nurse denied this reasonable request.  Later, the patient told us he recalls the entire event and our assessment backed his version of events.  As he signed a refusal, the nurse did a double take and came running over to me.

“If he isn’t transported, you’re going to get sued you know.  He needs a Doctor.”  Then she went back to the counter to see about a flight coupon for “helping.”

Not uncommon unfortunately.

Second nurse encounters a child itching her foot.  The parents seem oblivious, but this nurse stops and mentions that the foot looks to be red and swollen.  Upon further assessment the child is, in fact, experiencing an allergic reaction from a bite of some kind.  She quickly pulled some of the Benadryl she carries and gave it to Mother to give to the teewn aged child.

As medics arrived at the scene they found a child with no complaint and a blue shape drawn on her calf encircling a small bite wound.  The nurse drew a line around the edema to track its progress, but it regressed before they arrived.

“Glad you’re a nurse,” my crew told her, “Do you work in the ED?”

“No,” she said shyly, “I’m a home health nurse.  I take care of an older couple.  You know, cook, clean, help them out.”

She got a high 5 from us, then simply walked away.


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