It was a typical Friday night: The trauma bay was full, patients were lined up in hallway beds 1 through 6, and we were 50 deep in the waiting room. Within an hour of starting my shift, I had a chest pain in Room 4, a pregnant vaginal bleeder in Room 6, an old lady with belly pain in the neighboring room, and a colostomy malfunction in Room 13. These descriptions were exactly how I attempted to remember them. I had systematically hit all the right questions for each patient and put in the necessary orders, imaging was obtained, charts were being typed up, and the attending physician had been notified and had agreed with all my plans. Feeling like I had things under control, I called over to the nurse, “Hey, can you please check on the vaginal bleeder to see how she’s doing?” The nurse stared at me blankly and responded, “You know she has a name, right?”
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 36 – No 02 – February 2017
I was immediately taken aback. To me, she was “Room 6,” 35-year-old female G3 P 0111, newly pregnant with a few days of spotting, mild abdominal cramping, no rebound or guarding, rule out ectopic, and confirm a live intrauterine pregnancy. My face immediately became flushed and warm, and my voice stuttered. I was unsure how to respond. I had been so consumed with everything else, I honestly hadn’t even glanced at her name. Like a good resident, I had checked on her a couple of times to ensure her abdominal cramping had resolved. I gave her ice water and updated her on the wait time for her ultrasound. Once those items were marked off my checklist, I went on my way. The nurse proceeded to ask me, “Did you know she and her husband have been trying for a year? That she’s had a prior miscarriage and is worried it might happen again?” My face was now beet red and my heart thumping out of my chest from my embarrassment from the unintentional reprimand.
I walked back in, this time more aware, noticing more than just the vital signs. In front of me was a woman not much older than me, clearly worried. Her lips were pressed together nervously, hands clutched tightly, and eyes wide in anticipation of bad news. This was someone seeking reassurance, not just lab values and test results. She was more than just “vaginal bleeder in Room 6.”