Monday, August 25, 2008

Attention to detail: How to avoid dumb questions

A few weeks ago at work the patient care techs were busy and my patients were tucked away so I answered a spate of phone calls to the unit. One call was from the lab, "Patient X? The sample in the green top [test tube of blood] is hemolyzed [red blood cells are ruptured]. We need another one sent."

I walked down the hall to convey the message to the patient's nurse, "Lab called. That sample's hemolyzed. Can you send another one?"

"Well no," she said, looking at me curiously, "The patient's dead."

I looked over at the bed and monitor for the first time. Sure enough.

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