What do doctors want? “Backup.”


mdvsrnIn our exclusive MD/RN series, Dr. Brady Pregerson and Nurse Rebekah Child go head to head on the classic conundrum that nurses face daily: “What Do Doctor’s Want?”
MD said: Although it may seem obvious, it’s nevertheless a key part of patient care to realize that the nurse serves as the eyes and ears of the doctor when the doctor isn’t there.

Every MD knows that the nurse spends more time at the bedside and has fewer patients to focus on than the doctor. In addition, a good nurse should be able to tell what a patient needs and therefore predict the appropriate orders most of the time. The nurse double-checking a doctor’s orders, whether they are for testing, treatment or disposition, is a key part of the health care system that helps to prevent errors.

Doctors, like nurses, are human and make mistakes. Good backup is a priceless commodity and will be greatly appreciated, as long as the delivery is palatable.

RN said: RNs are a lot like Star Trek: We are the final frontier. Medication errors, treatments, assessments and the like all make their last stop via the RN before arriving at the final destination: the patient.

Doctors (God bless them) are sometimes not so great at multitasking, and here’s the kicker—we don’t want them to be! We want them to be able to focus on one thing at a time—mainly the patient! This leads to safe patient care.

So if for some reason the doctor was distracted by some other staff member and wrote the wrong order, or didn’t see that the patient has an anaphylactic reaction to penicillin (hence, the Zosyn not being such a great idea), don’t freak out! That’s why we’re here as RNs—to be the deputy sheriff of patient safety. “There’s only one way to this patient, and that’s over this living RNs body!”


Brady Pregerson, MD
Brady Pregerson, MD, a returned Peace Corps volunteer and winner of the 1995 Wise Preventive Medicine Scholarship, completed his medical school at the University of California, San Diego, and his residency at Los Angeles County General Hospital. He has authored three medical pocket books for nurses and doctors, as well as the educational web sites and Dr. Pregerson currently works as an emergency physician in Southern California. He writes, "Although the ED environment may be quite different from working on the hospital floor or in an office setting, I am hopeful that you can take these tips and apply them to your own specific work situation." You can buy his books on lessons from the ER, including Don't Try This At Home: Lessons from the Emergency Department and Think Twice: More Lessons from the ER, at

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