Monday, May 28, 2012

So Simple

They are training another new nursing supervisor.  To show him how to inspect the medication room, they chose my busiest time when I was giving out medication.  All vials must be labeled with an expiration date by the nurse opening the vial.  Who does this?  Me.  I always label when I open.  When I float unit to unit, the bossy nurses like to order me to "Check the vials!"  I would usually find unlabeled vials and dutifully label them because who would get in trouble if there was an inspection?  Me.  Why?  Because I was in charge of the medication room at the time and I should have inspected all vials myself for compliance.  I grew tired of cleaning up after other nurses.  Checking the vials takes time, and they would not give me time; instead, they yelled that I was holding up the medication pass if I did check vials.

So the new supervisor found an unlabeled vial.  They all acted shocked and then quite annoyed that I was not paying attention to their hissy fit.  "This has to be labeled!" he shouted.

"Just leave it on the counter and I'll take care of it," I calmly replied and continued my work.

They left, only to return with a higher up to ask me why I had not labeled the vial.  Nevermind that I was busy with patients.  "I did not open the vial," was my short reply.

"That does not matter," he explained, exasperated.  "You have to check them before you start.  You don't seem to understand."

"You do not seem to understand that I start with a tour of the unit, followed by a narcotic count, then the report, and by that time, I have a long line of patients and a phone that never stops ringing with no time to check vials that the nurse who worked yesterday evening could not be bothered to label."  I was careful to not raise my voice, but anyone observing this would recognize immediately that I run around like crazy while these supervisors sit at a desk, calling the unit, wondering why I am not sitting on top of the phone to answer questions such as, "How old is such-and-such a patient?"  Answer:  An hour older than he was when you called and asked me that one hour ago.  (These are real questions urgently asked on the phone.)  There is a great disparity in the workload that should translate into:  Leave me alone.

"I just was wondering why you haven't labeled the vial yet," this man continued.

"Because the labels are kept in a locked box in a locked cabinet in a locked room that is nowhere near the vials themselves, so I will retrieve them as soon as I finish my patients and figure out which three keys on this ring of 100 keys will grant me access to the labels."

He continued, "Why don't you just keep the labels in here, next to the vials?"  Critical.  Like I have any influence over the flow of logic in this place.

"I tried that," I realized I was starting to sound nasty.  "According to these nurses here, it's a crime against humanity."  He looked puzzled and shocked.  "I left the labels out one day for ease of access and was informed that it is not allowed because someone will steal them."  He stood silent.  The other nurses were watching.  I grew braver.  "Actually, this entire time that we've been talking and I have also been serving patients, the other nurses have had time to stand and listen.  One of them should be able to take five minutes to retrieve a label."

Everyone walked away.  Nobody went to retrieve a label.  Neither did I.

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