Bring on(?) the noise!

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A few years ago I was standing in line for Space Mountain at Disneyland and there was a kid there who was also standing in line with his friends—only unlike my chattery self who gets in faux trouble all the time for talking too much–he was listening to his music, completely ignoring his comrades. I thought that was so strange, not to participate in life – especially when you are at the HAPPIEST place on earth.

Fast forward now to the ED where I work. Maybe not always considered the happiest place on earth, but still, in general, a nice place to be. (I may be crazy, but I actually like my job…). The same anti-society series of thoughts came to me one day while I was making a quick and brisk walk through the treatment area and my auditory senses were graced with the continuous beeping of various pieces of equipment. A greatest hits CD of hospital sounds, varied, unique, and super annoying. I saw at least six nurses not busy (as evidenced by the cell phones, smart phones, PDAs in hand) and ignoring the beeping. However, when their iPhones or BlackBerries pinged, ponged, whistled, mooed or barked, they were immediately available to answer the call. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my iPhone and when I had a BlackBerry, I loved that too. They are fun and entertaining and a great way to get through life, however, just like train conductors shouldn’t be texting and talking on their cell phones while on duty, really neither should nurses.

What if the beeping was because someone was in v-tach or the IV pump was beeping because the patient’s line had infiltrated and now potassium was slowly sloughing off skin? Maybe patient call lights are a thing of the past…maybe beeping monitors and IV pumps are passé; maybe the future is simply giving your patient your cell phone number so when they want a glass of water or a warm blanket they could Twitter, text, IM or update their Facebook status to let their nurse know.

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Rebekah Child

Rebekah Child attended the University of Southern California for her bachelor's in nursing and decided to brave the academic waters and return for her master's in nursing education, graduating in 2003 from Mount St. Mary's. Rebekah has also taught nursing clinical and theory at numerous Southern California nursing schools and has been an emergency nurse since 2002. She is currently one of the clinical educators for an emergency department in Southern California and a student (again!) in the doctoral program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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3 Responses to Bring on(?) the noise!

  1. Ranay

    I agree! I don’t use my PDA for personal use while on the clock. My Mother is ill, so I do check the # when a call comes in, if I get a second call right after (With no message L between the calls) I know it is an emergency of some type. Two calls in a row, I excuse myself as possible. Family and friends know I don’t answer when at work, unless it is an emergency.

  2. sandi

    amen to that! nurses are “busy” all the time on my units and yet you find them looking at cell phones, reading the paper and chit chatting while call lights go off and various machines beep! Yet I know for certain if their loved one was in a bed and a nurse ignored them , they would be verrrry upset. COME ON, put the patient first always!

  3. Alaiyo

    I have been a nurse for many years. The ED has lots of sounds. You become selective in the sounds that need your immediate attention and the ones that are “normal”! I think that nurses are able to do more than one thing at a time. It includes checking a call/text or looking up a drug on their cell phone!!

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