Blood, Sweat and Wee.

And so begins my last week of working on the Isle of Wight, and I’m actually going to miss it. This placement in particular has been really good, I feel like I’ve learnt so much, and because of it, I’ve been made to feel like one of the team, which is fantastic.

But there have also been downsides: today had a couple of rather memorable ones.

The first one was really unpleasant and will probably stay with me for a while. A 90ish year old female patient (who I shall call Betty) was referred to the department for a lumbar spine x-ray. A message came through with her referral form telling us that she must be examined whilst lying down due to her mobility issues. We thought “fair enough, she’s in her 90s, no problem” and called her into the room. Her carer pushed her wheelchair over to the imaging table and we went through her details. Confirming her mobility issues, her carer agreed that she might be more comfortable lying down, but would be in pain anyway die to numerous previous fractures and her general frail state. Betty lay on the table on her side with her arm underneath her ribs so instead of getting her onto her back, we decided to attempt the lateral first, as she was obviously in a lot of pain. I asked her to move her arm forwards so it was clear of her spine, and when she moved it she screamed in pain. Both myself and the radiographer I was working with were really unhappy with continuing the examination this way, so we decided to ignore the earlier “advice” and perform the examination with the patient on her feet.

I helped Betty to sit up, and when she gave me her hand I noticed that the sleeve of her blouse was covered in fresh blood. I assumed that maybe a scab had been knocked off or something, but upon closer investigation, it turned out that her skin was so fragile that it had torn when she moved her arm. There was a three inch haematoma and open wound on her right elbow and it was bleeding a fair amount. We quickly continued with the x-ray whilst a colleague contacted A&E to get someone to apply a dressing to the wound.

Betty was much happier standing and the x-rays came out really well, although they clearly demonstrated her osteoporotic state. Personally I don’t agree with putting someone of her age and condition through such an examination; obviously the risks of the radiation aren’t a factor, but the pain and indignity are, and I really do doubt that the results of the x-rays will affect her treatment- it’s not like she’s going to be asked to lay off the skydiving for a few weeks so her back can heal.

After seeing her over to A&E, we filled out an incident form as is required following a patient suffering an injury whilst in our care. Whilst doing this, complaints started coming in about a leak in the waiting area, and sure enough, there was a torrent of water cascading down from the ceiling in the corner by the window. A few inco-pads were thrown down to absorb the water, but they couldn’t hold back the tide, and all they did was draw attention to the colour of the water. As suspected, it turned out that a sewage pipe in the ceiling had cracked, therefore making the flood slightly more unpleasant. Regardless of this, patients were still merrily walking through it, ignoring the warnings and traipsing it through the waiting room. One mother even walked past the cones that were used to block the area off and guided her son pretty much underneath the flow of effluent.

So I decided to take action and used some clinical waste bin-bags to set up a cordon, and mopped up the footprints and puddles in the waiting area. All the while dodging the waterfall which appeared every time someone upstairs flushed the toilet.

Luckily, shortly after lunch the estates department stopped the leak and arranged a clean-up. Let’s hope the smell is gone by tomorrow.

4 Comments on Blood, Sweat and Wee.

  1. suze
    October, 10th 2011 at 10:18 pm

    We had a cracked sewage pipe leak happen in the hospital pharmacy once, too!
    Who wrote the message stating she must be lying down? Had this person actually met her or had any contact with her care team at all? I doubt it, eh?

  2. Cherry Black
    October, 10th 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Contact the patient? Why? Why would anyone want to do THAT? Euurgh.

  3. PaulJ
    October, 10th 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Good grief! I thought this kind of thing only occurred in places like … er, Nepal?

  4. Mark
    November, 11th 2011 at 1:28 am

    Well you can’t say it was boring. The kind of day that makes me miss clinical practice. No really 😉

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