Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tasks and Trash...

Sometimes I wonder what it is I actually do in a day. I think about the individually packaged pills I have to open, and think, I probably opened 100 little packages today, not counting the individually wrapped syringes and needless luer-lock attachments. Yes, it might be safer when each pill has a printed barcode on the wrapper, but the pill packager has gone on the fritz putting pills in the wrong packages before.

Then there are the innumerable tasks. I often feel like a glorified waitress, fetching water and juice, then IV morphine. (My days at Chili's during college DID pay off!) Dressing changes, assistance to the bathroon, ordering, then taking the meal trays away, patient and family education, comforting a nauseated patient, and throwing away used tissues are just SOME of the tasks I complete in a typical day. I like when my job is a little bit more than task oriented, when I can sit and talk with a patient about her pet Pomeranian, or about how she used to travel. Those are good days.

Today, for example, I had to change IV tubing. This is something that must be done at least every 72 hours, of which we keep track of with little colored sticker "flags" that attach around the plastic tubing, indicating "Change Monday" (or whatever day comes 72 hours from now). I had to change tubing today because the patient went from "critical care" to "step down" and when that happens, the IV pump themselves are switched out, requiring a new set of IV tubing.

This is just one example of how trash is created. I think to myself, how wasteful my profession is, how much trash we produce, and that none of it matters because it's all about cost, and not about the environment. If I saved all of my throwaways, not counting sharps, I'm sure I would have a brown paper grocery bag full, and that's just one nurse. On my unit today, there were 12 nurses scheduled, and that was one nurse short. And that's just one unit in hospital with 350+ beds. Point is, it's a lot of trash.

I don't think things will change, at least not soon, but it's something I think about from time to time. Maybe you do too.

No comments:

Post a Comment