Today, instead of taking one of our patients to the ER, the ER asked us to come evaluate one of their patients.
This was unfortunate for a few reasons. One, they paged the inpatient PT, by name, 20 minutes after she was supposed to be gone. She was just finishing up paperwork, but she’d been at the hospital since 7:00 am, and she wanted to go home. Two, it really wasn’t an appropriate situation to need a PT for.
She went. She grabbed a gait belt and me, and I grabbed a walker. We get to the ER, and it is just packed. She manages to find the chart for the patient in question, but we can’t seem to find the patient’s nurse. While trying to stand out of the way and (at the same time) find the proper nurse, we overhear one harried person telling someone else on the phone that their waiting room is full and they just had 9 ambulances in the last 10 minutes, and can we please find an open bed to admit this person into? The doctors are trying to admit or send home patients as fast as possible to make room for new patients. In general, it’s pretty much a mad house.
We finally get the right nurse, who has nothing to tell us that wasn’t on the chart. We find the patient. We question the patient. The patient is not the most stellar at getting the idea of what we’re trying to figure out, or we might not have been surprised when he needed max assist to even sit up in bed. It made his heart-rate spike some 30 or 40 beats just to do that. Standing was out of the question. Walking was out of the question. No, this person was not functionally able to return home, or to do anything else.
We find the doctor in question, and inform him of our findings. He thanks us, and apologizes for making us go through all that, but. . .something about following the rules or something.
So the bare facts boil down to, as far as I can tell, this:
ER gets totally, suddenly and urgently swamped.
Doctors cannot be in enough places at once to clear out beds for incoming patients.
Doctor reads symptoms off of chart, and realizes that if PT says the patient shouldn’t go home, he can admit the patient. This will use less of his precious time, but it is, indeed, inappropriate. This did not require the training of a PT.
Already-should-have-been-at-home PT does come down to evaluate the patient, and everyone is very polite and nice and thankful.
One more spot in the ER is opened up for ambulance deliveries, and Dr. has more time to try to get other patients taken care of.
Now, for the PT who already should have been home, we thoroughly understand her frustration at being kept even later for something that did not require her skills. But why does the entire rest of the PT department have to get so disgusted by such an “inappropriate” request from ER?
No one denies that the cause was probably being absurdly swamped at the ER. It remains “inappropriate” and “they could have done that (checked out the patient themselves)”, and “they know better (than to call PT for something like that)”.
Yes, but. . .I know it’s inappropriate. I get that. But how about understandable? How about human?
Even the PT that had to go down was pleased with how nicely she’d been treated and impressed by how crazy-full-busy it was. And no one in the PT department hesitated to offer if there was something they could do to help the already-should-have-been-home PT leave. So why is so mean-awful-nasty that they just lent a (technically uncalled for) hand for an exceedingly swamped Emergency Room? They were nice; they were over-loaded. It seems like they pretty much knew they were asking for a favor.
My brother would say this is the kind of mindset that lets females get over-worked in the workplace. I would like to think that there is a difference between occasionally lending a hand during extenuating circumstances and allowing oneself to get walked all over.
I don’t think there is enough money in the world to get me to work in an ER. That’s because I’m pretty sure I’d die of the stress in about a week and half. Nothing akin to this from the ER has happened before in the year or so that I’ve been there. I just don’t quite understand the tightfistedness of the PT department in not allowing this one favor, graciously.