October 09, 2008 | | Comments 2
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Calming the hysterical

by Deanna Miller, RN, MSN/Ed, HCE

The other day I was spending much of my time out on my Medical Surgical unit because of an increase in census and acuity. As I was walking down the hallway one of my seasoned RN’s approached me with eyes bugging from her head and the fear of the unknown on her face. Before she could say a word I asked her, “What’s wrong?” As she wiped the beads of sweat from her brow she stated, “I have been trying to get that PCA pump to work for the past half hour and I just can’t get it to infuse.” She was frustrated, agitated and I knew that the patient was having to observe this during her entire time of troubleshooting that darn PCA pump.

I asked the RN to remove the pump from the room and bring it to the medication room so that we could trouble shoot together. She obtained the pump and we did work it out. My words of wisdom were these; if you are having difficulty with a piece of technical equipment in a patient’s room and you are not able to resolve the problem quickly, sometimes it is good judgment to remove the equipment from the room, if you are able. Work on it in another area. Reason: Your frustration may be perceived by the patient as hostility, lack of knowledge or frustration. You can also take a minute and get a cold beverage……Have any of you experienced the same?

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  1. I totally understand where you are coming from. I have also informed staff to set up the PCA pump , prime the line and get everything ready, before you bring the PCA into the room, then they only hav to hook in the pca and educate the patient and the family about the PCA

  2. Absolutely, it cuts down on the apprehension of the patient, the family and the nurse. In this instance the less that is done in front of the patient is probably for the best. Especially if there is difficulty setting up a piece of equipment or procedure. Take care!

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