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.