Thursday, September 15, 2005

I'm not as think as you drunk I am

ethanol molecule

When people are brought into the ER for being drunk, their "complaint" is often listed as ETOH. More properly written EtOH, it stands for ethyl alcohol (OH being the oxygen+hydrogen functional group that, when attached to an organic molecule, makes it an alcohol - I paid attention in organic chemistry). Ethyl alcohol is better-known ethanol or "that shit that gets you fuuucked uuuuuup" as I once heard a frat boy explain.

After checking them out to make sure nothing else is wrong, the patient is usually just left to sleep it off. Sometimes the med staff will hang a banana bag (IV fluid containing a multivitamin which causes the yellow color, thiamine, folic acid, and sometimes magnesium sulfate).

Registering these patients can either be really easy or really difficult. If they're passed out, you try one "Mr. [name]!", then just mark off that they are unresponsive. If they're awake, getting them to respond to questions can be a lengthy and tiresome chore. Gold star if you successfully get an intoxicated person to sign paperwork while dodging their flammable, bile-tinged breath.

One night EMS brought in a young man that was loaded. Completely out. It was his 21st birthday and he'd attempted to down as many shots. Sigh. After taking care of his medical needs, several nurses and techs surrounded the bed and sang a rousing version of "Happy Birthday" to his unconscious body.

I've mentioned before the sense of humor pervasive in our ER. It feels like home to me.

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