Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Off Topic - Code Blue

Okay, this is very off-topic based on something I overheard at work this morning.  Two middle-aged women were waiting for the elevator as I walked by, and they were talking rather loudly.  And one says to the other, "Well, his heart stopped during surgery and they couldn't restart it, but he was old so they probably didn't try very hard." And the elevator doors opened and they got on and the doors closed and they were gone. And I didn't have time to say anything, but oh, how I wanted to!  This is not the first time I've heard something like this, and every time I hear it I feel the need to address it, so here goes:

I have been a nurse for more than ten years. I started as an Army nurse, where I specialized in trauma care. I worked in the intensive care unit and the emergency room.  Then I went to anesthesia school, which was three years of further education and clinical experience.  I have seen a LOT of cardiac arrests, in hospitals all over the country.  I have NEVER seen one respondent to a "Code Blue" who was not 100% serious about saving the life of the patient.  And I'm pretty sure that if I had, their colleagues would not have taken it lightly.

Seriously - some of the hardest work I have ever done in my life was during a Code Blue - and I've never been alone on one for any length of time.  Everybody with a free pair of hands comes immediately to your location to help.  You'll easily have half a dozen dedicated professionals working on the case, and we generally don't give up until it's absolutely clear that there's no hope left.  Now, there's significant controversy over that, to be sure - some people think we try too hard, especially in cases that perhaps shouldn't be "coded" at all.  Be that as it may, I think it's safe to say that nobody could accuse us of not trying hard enough.

Please, please, please - if you've ever lost a loved one in a hospital setting, accept my sincere condolences, and please don't think we didn't try to save them.  I can assure you that that is not the case.  Sometimes we work for hours on the patient and then one (or more) of us goes and cries with the family over the loss.  We feel each loss and we absolutely don't give up easily.

Okay, now I'll climb off this soapbox - I appreciate your indulgence during my rant.  I'll try to keep those to a minimum in the future.  And don't I look tall up here?  :)


  1. rant all you want. its hard when the public has a bad perception of something you pour your life into!

  2. as someone who wants to work in the medical field that attitude just sickens me. so go ahead and rant away! i'll be with you on that soap box!

  3. Fortunately, I've never been admitted to the hospital for a serious medical condition. However, I have visited both family and friends in the hospital, and each time the staff was knowledgeable and provided excellent care.

  4. Thank you, everyone! I know that everyone doesn't feel like this, but it just breaks my heart to think that families might feel that we would just give up, you know?