Wednesday, June 3, 2009

When It Goes Wrong

A man lies in his bed dying. A relative sits stoically next to the bed bearing witness to the end of his time on this earth. The Nursing Assistant assigned to his care - nowhere to be found. The Nurse Supervisor is buried under the month end paper work and cannot see her absence. The medication nurse, brand new to her license, has thirty patients to attend. She frantically passes 350 doses of medication to her patients over the eight hours of her shift. She visits the man once during the day. His pain in control and she moves on to the next person. She assumes the Nurse Assistant will do her duty. The man dying harbors a bacterium that terrifies the Nursing Assistant. She tells no one that she is afraid. No one knows that she has decided to refuse to care for him. The relative of the dying man watches the minute hand on her watch and becomes angrier with every passing second that this dying man receives no care. The relative is angry but tells no one of the over sight. She is afraid to leave his bed side. She does not think to ring the call bell. Eight hours pass and no one enters the room. It is not until the next group of workers arrive that the care begins. The evening Nursing Assistant listened to her trainer and knows how to protect herself and her patient from the germs lurking in the dying man’s body. She comforts and sooths this dying man. A nurse with many years of experience assesses his needs and renders care to him. Some balance is restored in a system out of tilt – dignity and compassion again find their places at the bedside. The other Nursing Assistant calls in sick for her next shift. There is a reckoning awaiting and she knows it.

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