Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rubber Chicken in Intensive Care Unit!

I am working the night shift at a large Catholic Hospital in a metropolitan area. I and another respiratory therapist are on duty for the night, and "Brad" who was well known for pulling off some good practical jokes to pass the time, had disappointed me this time. Best he came up with for the evening was the rubber chicken he brought with him to help pass the time. This was that common variety of chicken, plucked and portrayed as deceased with it's mouth gaping open. Brad figured we could hang him in a linen closet and maybe give a good scare to one of the Nurses.

The rubber chicken was hung by his feet and when anyone opens the closet, that is the first thing they will see. Several nurses visited the closet, but none reacted as we were hoping. "Oh, who hung this here", or "oh... that is really funny". Brad was disappointed.

Then Brad got a brilliant idea... "Hey let's take the bird down to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and find him a bed". There was only a couple of patients in the 14 private rooms, thus we should have no problem finding the chicken a bed. Bed 7, right across from the the Nurses Station will serve fine. Brad goes in like he is checking some equipment, tucks the little bird into bed with a sheet pulled up to his little chest, and head propped up on a pillow. He then turned on the pulse oximeter and left the room.

Now with the pulse oximeter not hooked up to a patient it will alarm in about 10 seconds. When the alarm goes off one the nurses looks up at the supposedly vacant room with a quizzical look on her face. In she goes to shut off the alarm and sees the little rubber chicken tucked in the bed. She starts yacking about how this is not right... We figure she is going to be upset with our little joke but instead she hooks the pulse oximeter clip onto the little birds arm, and silences the alarm. The other nurse joins in and applies a couple ECG leads to the little bird's chest and hooks it up to the cardiac monitor. The other nurse is busying herself with starting an I.V. on the birds free arm. They are now calling for Respiratory Therapy to set up a ventilator as they feel the bird is having difficulty breathing. I send Brad for a ventilator, while I intubate the bird with a 7.5mm endotracheal tube. Brad set the ventilator for around 150cc of volume to ventilate. I inflate the cuff on the endotracheal tube and get a perfect seal in the birds airway.

While Brad and I have been fussing with the intubation and ventilator, the nurses have started an I.V. drip, put in a foley catheter and hooked up a chest tube. We hook the bird up to the ventilator at 22 breaths per minute, and we all cracked up when the rubber chicken started inflating and deflating with the cycling of the ventilator.

We are all quite proud of how rapidly we were able to stabilize this very sick bird, and indeed proved not only to be a good way to pass some time, but also helped in building our team work.

An hour had passed and it was now about 3:00am and Brad and I are hanging out in the ICU talking with the Nurses. The bird has been very stable. Indeed... another slow night.

Then we hear the automatic doors swing open, and walking down the hallway, much to our surprise and horror, is the the Chief of Cardiac Surgery. We all stiffen in our chairs as we see him walking down the hall glancing in each room, obviously looking for a patient of his. He rarely shows up at this time of night, and what a night for him to choose to do a surprise walk through.

As the Chief of Cardiac Surgery approaches room 7, he comes to a stop and does a classic double take... At first it was if he was not sure of what he was looking at. As seconds ticked by, he was soaking up the full impact of what was going on in that bed. Then with an almost military about face he turned and looked blankly at the crew... "Slow night huh?" was all he said. Then without any expression on his face, continued on down the hallway. We were all almost dying trying not to break out in full laughter.

We left the bird on life support for the AM shift to see. It did not take long for the word to spread and several nurses and other staff had to come up to see our handy-work. I figured we would get called in before the Nuns for some counciling, for this stunt, but nothing ever came of it.

Ya gotta love the Night Shift in a hospital.


Soarman said...

Glad to her that nothing came of your prank. We would never get away with anything like that at the nuclear plant though and also, I suspect that things have changed at the hospital as well.

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