Last night, I was called into the quad to speak with a patient. After one month I was very familiar with this patient, who had the unfortunate combination of both extreme confusion and narcotic dependence. The deafening roar of this patient’s rage could be heard down the hall in a continuous drone like bomb sirens blaring in warning of impending air raids except the only thing dropping was a steady stream of curse words.
When I got into the room she was awkwardly attempting to dial a number as she tangled the phone cord around every conceivable object she could find.
“Hello!” she screamed into the receiver “I want to talk with the… the person who runs between floors and stuff… uh…”
“Charge nurse,” the operator added.
“Yeah, I’d like to file a complaint.”
“Mam,” I interrupted, leaning forward so the job title on my badge could be easily read. “I’m the charge nurse can I help you.”
“Will you shut the f*ck up, I’m trying to talk on the phone.”
“These nurses are stealing my pain meds!”
“Mam,” I said, attempting to hide my irritation. “I’m the charge nurse and I can assure you no one is trying to steal your pain medications.”
I was assured of this, because these sorts of medications are heavily monitored and well documented. I knew she had gotten her pain medications, because we could easily retrieve the exact time in which the medications were removed and also she was completely insane. This sort of thing was a nightly occurrence with her.
Every night I was called into the quad to discuss her ‘stolen’ pain medications and every night we would attempt to show her the medications were given. With each successive night we had to come up with new, more extreme methods of convincing her and each night these methods would prove more fruitless than the last. It was a vicious cycle of depressing failure.
“Nurses are stealing my pain medications and I need to speak to the charge nurse!”
“Mam,” said the operator “that is the charge nurse.”
This conversation continued for ten more minutes. She turned to me.
“Okay, so you’re the charge nurse. Now help me find my stolen pain medications.”
Remember, this lady had been here for months and I knew she was crazy, so I was prepared. I had two nurses from the quad with me and I had the operator stay on the line. I pointed to the white board.
“Mam, we have been putting the schedule of your medications on the white board and I have the nurse who administered them with me in the room, along with the other nurse who was in the quad at the time they were given, and they can attest along with the electronic record in our Pyxis (medication machine) that you have received your medications at the exact time they were due. As far as what medications were given, you also have a photocopied record of all the current medications and when they are due should you have any questions.”
I told you we were prepared. She points to the nurse in the room.
“That bitch stole my pain meds!”
We have wasted over forty minutes inside her room and the pain meds are now due.
“Okay, I will go get you some pain meds and we are going to keep the operator on the other line so that she can confirm that you have indeed received them.”
Both nurses, myself, and the operator are in the room as witnesses and short of a notary of the public and official jury of our peers, there is nothing we could possibly do to confirm this further. She plays with her medications and examines them thoroughly for authenticity.
I place them individually into her medication cup and loudly announce this over the phone for the operator on the other end, who is simultaneously confirming with the patient and the two other nurses in the room. She immediately consumes the medications. We all nod.
Five minutes later…
“Where are my f*cking pain meds!”
And that folks, is why we have haldol.
Haldol: Magic sleepy time medication for old people.