An anonymous nurse tells us about her experience as a patient in an emergency room.

She started by saying how, being a nurse, she has to hear different kinds of stories, related to miserable medical trials and tribulations from people. Every time she’s in a gathering someone comes up to her with the same problem.

She has been part of the healthcare profession for quite some time, and throughout that period she conducted research studies to improve the patient experience. “For years, I’ve taught in nursing programs and conducted research studies on to make better use of nurses in our healthcare system. But it wasn’t until I found myself in a Boston ambulance several years ago that I got an actual look at America’s grim healthcare reality.” She said.

What exactly would have happened several years back?

“It was a sunny winter afternoon. My sister, my mother and I entered a small boutique, and what happened next, I don’t remember. When I came to, my mom was screaming. About a dozen people hovered over me. Apparently, I had walked into the store and tripped, and the pain was so bad that I passed out for a second. That had never happened before.” She stated.

The incident prolonged and the store clerk called 911. The paramedics arrived, and she was told to go to the emergency immediately which she didn’t find practical, considering that she had only sprained her ankle. However, her mom and sister insisted that she should go to the emergency just in case.

On reaching there, the emergency formalities were completed, and she was wheeled to the waiting area, she said: “Looking around made me realize that the cubicle was a much more comfortable place than where I was going to spend the next several hours.”

Being there along with hundreds of other patients, she felt guilty for taking attention from all the other patients who needed more help than she did. “There was a man, probably in his 60s, who looked very sick. He was lying on a large hospital transport cart. His wife looked sorrowful. My gaze moved to the next patient, then to the next one, and the next.” Being a nurse, it was quite natural for her to stop thinking about her problems and to think about the patients who are in need of aid.
As her turn came, she was wheeled here and there, in and out of different rooms for different tests. Confusion kept on growing. Everything was happening in a rush, and there was chaos. “They mixed up my name, or the reason I was there, or the next room I should go to.”

During that time, she was given painkillers. A few minutes later, she was offered to have painkillers again! “My mom and sister, both nurses themselves, jumped to say “she just took them.” The staff member apologized for the blunder and left.” She stated.

She then realized and had a new understanding of a statistic she knew all along, that 78 out of 100,000 patients who visit the emergency room, experience a certain type of medication error.

“I will continue teaching nurses and researching how they can best serve our health care system. One thing is clear: My short stay in the emergency room showed me, in painfully memorable fashion, how much we need primary care if we want our ERs to function properly.” On this, she ended it.