Thursday, 18 August 2011

A break from your (ir)regular programming

Myself and Mrs Absentbabinski are on hols this week in Malta, so no posts of any consequence for a few more days. It is lovely and if you like swimming in the Mediterranean sea and 32 degree (celcius) days of unending sunshine, I can highly recommend it.

I dare say there will be a debrief post and a few pics when I get back. Assuming London hasn't been razed to the ground.

In the meantime, "Saha" as they say over here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

London Riots

Although the news has been full of them, the London riots have ended up being more rumour than riot for me. I have passed damaged shop fronts on the bus and I have seen footage on the TV of violence, arson and ineffectual policing, but so far I guess I have been lucky enough to not have them directly effect me.

Working at my hospital yesterday, the day was full of rumour, half-truths and supposition which I found myself getting drawn into more easily than I expected or wanted. They were boarding up the high street, then there was a riot on it already, then that was discounted. Then there was talk of other places being targeted. Nothing to support this other than something heard from someone else who had a friend who knew about it. It's weird how the contained group of nurses all fell to recirculating rumour in lieu of fresh information. Then the hospital quietly advised non-essential personnel to leave by 4pm and said they would be locking the main gates before night fall. I began to feel ever more uneasy. 

From the third floor of the hospital I could look out over South London all the way to Canary Wharf and it was amazing to me how there was no difference I could see. Life was just rumbling on, same as it ever did. When my shift ended I legged it out of the hospital and headed to the train station. Every group of people, no matter how innocent they looked, made my spidey-sense ping and it was all I could do not to sprint for the train. As I got to the station I was passed by two horse carrier lorries, blues and twos going and zooming off to an incident somewhere. On the platform I overheard a group of police officers on their way to work debating whether or not annual had been cancelled.

My wife had been working up in North London in a shop and had had the police come around and tell her to shut up shop and go home. In the middle of the afternoon. She had tried to do a bit of food shopping on the way home only to find all the supermarkets by us shut and some even boarded over with plywood in preparation for violence.

I am torn between worrying about the next few nights and thinking that this will blow over soon enough. The Met have made lots of noise about intensifying policing in the capital and their no-nonsense approach to public order offences is well known around the UK. They are issuing plastic bullets and allocating water cannon.

I'd also like to raise my voice to join the choir of Londoners appalled by the behaviour of a violent and antisocial minority. The best description I have come up with is an amalgam of disenfranchised people, who have been raised on a diet of mass consumerism, with nothing to lose and little fear from prosecution. Arguably a very dangerous combination. That there has been such a united front against these people is something which gives me hope for the city and the species in general.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Are you sure this is a valid prescription?

Vodka of the Gods

Seen yesterday on the PRN side of the drug chart:

Vodka 50mls PO

on the same chart, regular side:

Chlordiazepoxide 20mg QDS

The nurse who picked this up bleeped the pharmacist who briefly did a good impression of a beetroot and then looked like they were about to lay an egg.

The pharmacist's main issues were:

a) Why wasn't this patient (who was an alcoholic) being detoxed?
b) Where did the doctor think they had medicinal vodka in the hospital?
c) What was the doctor thinking prescribing alcohol *and* a benzodiazepine together?

Sadly, the pharmacist left before the doctor arrived to sort out the chart. My favourite part of this was the doctor's eye-rolling and suggestions that the pharmacist was being over the top in getting upset about this. Oh, and then asking around the ward if we knew what alcohol pharmacy *did* stock.

So many of the shifts I've worked over the summer have been guides on what not to do as a doctor. Behaviour-wise and common sensical.

How the sausage is made

This post was inspired by a bank shift yesterday

You're a patient in a hospital in the UK, it's 10am and your consultant has just come 'round on the ward round and told you that you're all better and you can go home! Hooray!

Of course, it's not that simple and the nurse tells you that you need a doctor's letter and some medications to go home with. You smile and say fine, but does the nurse have a general idea when you're going? The nurse thinks you should expect to leave around 2pm, so you call your relative to come pick you up.

So what's happening in the background as you are getting dressed and being congratulated by your ward-mates on your imminent release?

1) Consultant tell nurse-in-charge patient can go home at 10am
2) Junior doctor is told to organise discharge by nurse-in-charge
3) Junior doctor rolls eyes and grumbles about doing it at the end of the ward round
4) Junior doctor promptly forgets entire conversation about this discharge
5) Lunchtime comes and goes, nurse bleeps junior doctor multiple times - gets TTA (list of medications to go home with) and discharge letter by 1pm
6) Nurse notes date on discharge letter is wrong, bleeps junior doctor. Promises to fix letter are made and promptly forgotten
7) Pharmacist gets TTA, processes it promptly
8) Ward gets medications, nurse bleeps junior doctor about discharge letter
9) Nurse fends off irate patient about what is taking so long and how ridiculous it is and how the patient shouldn't self-discharge etc. etc.
10) At 4pm discharge letter is complete. Nurse prints, explains and dispenses TTAs. Patient goes home annoyed but happy (if only to be leaving)

I'd really forgotten how much I hate organising discharges. Give me a sick patient. Give me an oozing, stinking wound. Give tears and fears and innumerate emotional horrors of being in hospital.

Just don't give me a day where I spend it chasing other people to do their job so I can send my patient home. I get so tired of being the face of the machinations described above. Basically, I can't do anything more and yet I get to soak up the anger and frustrations of the patient. It is very, very tiring.