Travel Nurse: Code Blue

My last day of orientation ended in a whirlwind last night: I swiped my badge to clock out, got in the elevator, pushed the button for the parking garage, heard the words "Code Blue" over the speaker system, stuck my hand between the elevator doors just before they closed completely, jumped out of the elevator, joined a dozen other nurses running down the hall towards the coding patient and ran into the patient's room. When I got into the patient's room I saw several other nurses going into the bathroom.

I walked into the bathroom where the patient, a 350 pound woman, had apparently been sitting on the toilet when she began bleeding out of her femoral artery in her left groin. There were already four or five nurses working on her. I later found out that several days earlier she had had "an uncomplicated" heart catheterization procedure. Uncomplicated, that is, until she passed out on the toilet and nearly died.

I helped start IV fluids for the patient and hooked them up to her heplock. It took six people to lift the patient off the toilet and put her back on her bed. As we did so, one of the nurses kept a ball of gauze pressed against the slit in the patient's groin to keep the blood from coming out. I then backed away from the scene and watched as the cardiovascular surgeon climbed on top of the patient and while straddling her, pried open the slit in her groin with his hands and pressed directly on the artery. The patient and the doctor were then whisked out of the room, down the hall and into the elevator toward the operating room.

As I walked out of the hospital I thought to myself how consistent nursing is no matter where I have worked. In every hospital I have worked in there have been good days and bad days. Days where not much happened, and days, like today, where all heck breaks loose at the end of the shift and you have to react as quickly as you can. But in every hospital I have worked in "Code" always means "this is important, pay attention and react," "Code Brown" means "someone has dropped anchor on themselves" and "Stat" always means "move your butt right now."

Orientation is definitely over.