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Getting your Pain Meds on Time Getting your Pain Meds on Time

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Unread 04-15-2002, 08:09 PM
Getting your Pain Meds on Time

With hospitals so short of nurses, and nurses so busy, sometimes they don't answer your call for pain medicine right away.

My second day, I went 6 hours past my time for pain meds. I had been assigned a student nurse, and I could tell that she was so busy with everything that she had just forgotten -- forgotten more than once. It must be hard to learn to juggle so many duties at the same time. She was a sweetie and I don't hold it agianst her. But it hurt like hell!

The fourth day I didni't get my pain meds until almost noon. I think the nurse was mean, besides being busy. She kept coming in to my room to do other stuff. She asked me how bad my pain was and I told her 4-7. Still no pain meds. I finally curled up in bed crying. That's when my friend went to the nurses station in person (although I'd been calling them every 30 minutes) and finally got me some pain meds.

Rule #1: Don't be alone in the hospital
Rule #2: Call ahead of time for your pain meds to give them some leeway in bringing it to you
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Unread 04-15-2002, 08:21 PM
Getting your Pain Meds on Time

I'm sorry that your hospital experience was so difficult. However, I think you are making some enormous generalizations here that are not appropriate or applicable to most hospitals and their staffs.

I wouldn't minimize your problems at your particular hospital, because you seem to have had many. I would say, though, that the vast majority of women who have passed this way have NOT had the difficulties you have had. Nor have they experienced neglect or problems with untreated complications. Most hospitals and most nurses take wonderful care of their patients. In this litigious time, they would not be in the business of healthcare very long if they did not as a rule take the most careful precautions with their patients.

Your "suggestions" are obviously based on your own experiences. I would like to say loud and clear that they are NOT the rule, but the exception. Yes, we all need to be our own advocates, and yes, we should have assistance when we need it. But most hospitals and nurses and doctors provide excellent, compassionate care.

I hope you can find some good outcomes despite your difficult experience....wishing you a more peaceful recovery.

Unread 04-15-2002, 08:31 PM
My Experience

I can certainly sympathize with your story. I just got out of the hospital a couple of weeks ago after being admitted for shortness of breath, and the emergency room stay was a nightmare!!! I made the mistake of going there alone and spent most of my stay there alone, since my family were all working or were out of town at the time. What a difference it makes when you're alone. There was no one to intervene for me, no one to help me, no one to see that I was cared for properly.

I was taken in by ambulance Thursday with shortness of breath, chest pain, and extreme weakness caused by excessive bleeding because of my fibroids. I arrived at noon and was put into a room with a tiny GYN exam table with no side rails. The ER doctor examined me, and I was then hooked up to an IV, automatic blood pressure cuff, heart monitor, and pulse oximeter and left there for hours. No one came back in to check on me. As the hours wore on, my basic physical needs were ignored. It had been 12 hours since I had eaten when I was brought in, and I was given no water. (There was no order stating I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink. They just didn’t provide anything.) When I had to go to the bathroom, I tried to call for the nurse with the call button, but no one ever came. After a couple of hours of waiting in vain for someone to appear, I finally took matters into my own hands and disconnected all of the machines and removed my IV, which had gone dry an hour earlier (and hurt like heck!) The nurse came in right as I was trying to stop the bleeding from the IV site, and I told her I what I needed. She allowed me to wobble my way to the bathroom down the hall. When I returned to my room, I was left off of the machines, but was told by the ER doctor that I was being admitted for a cardiac workup.

When the shifts changed, I only saw my night nurse once which was when she came to tell me that it would be awhile before I was admitted, as there were no beds available. No vital signs were taken, no further monitoring was done, and no one came to check to see if I were even still alive. Seventeen hours after I arrived, I was finally admitted to a bed in the hospital. For those seventeen hours of my stay there, I requested water from four different people, but received none. I slept on that tiny, uncomfortable exam table, trying desperately not to fall off, even though I was very dizzy. It wasn’t until I got dressed and decided to go home at midnight that I got any action. (And a tray of food. Sometimes it pays to pitch a fit!)

I realize that I was not the most critical patient in the ER that night. I wasn’t asking for constant attention, just provision of my biological needs and some basic nursing care. I used to be a nurse, and I now teach medical assisting students. I always tell my students to put themselves in their patients’ shoes; how would they want to be treated in the same situation. Either this hospital needs to hire more nurses, or the ones they have need to go back to school and learn some nursing skills. As for me, I would rather die than set foot in that place again! I certainly hope they do better with my surgery!
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Unread 04-15-2002, 08:34 PM
Getting your Pain Meds on Time

I think I've read on other posts about asking for pain medication ahead of time. O.K., my stupidity is going to show...but how do you do that? I mean, how do you know ahead of time that you're going to hurt bad enough for pain medication?

Maybe my brain is clouding my common sense
Unread 04-15-2002, 08:53 PM
Getting your Pain Meds on Time

How to ask for pain meds ahead of time? If you're due for pain meds every 4-6 hours, ask at 3 hours and 45 minutes. It might take them 30 minutes once in a while.

Don't let yourself get to a highly painful state. Once there, it's harder to get the pain down and control it. Try to keep your pain under control. Take your meds! Don't be a hero.

Good nurses or not?
There were lots of good nurses where I was. I was at one of the best hospitals in Portland. And I just loved my night nurse and my day nurse. There were other helpful nurses, too. Just one bad one.

But when things go wrong, it seems there's a tendency for even more things to go wrong. And it's best to be prepared in case something does go wrong, so you can nip it in the bud.
Unread 04-15-2002, 08:59 PM
Getting your Pain Meds on Time

re: pain meds - I think morphine and other opiates last 4 - 6 hours. When I was in for surgery in November, they checked every 4 hours - also the demerol and Tylenol 3 perscriptions say every 4 - 6. Also if these make you puke, you should remind the nurse to give you gravol at the same time. I found if you ask for the gravol first (which works better for the nausea) they sometimes forget to comeback with the morphine.

As for not getting basic treatment, while the above mentioned nurses were pretty good with the pain meds, they did let the IV run dry, which was a good thing because they left the sides of the bed up, and as I'd had abdominal surgery I couldn't get myself out to go for a pee. They'd give me a shot of morphine and I'd beg to go the bathroom "I'll be back in a minute" they'd say, and be back 4 hours later with the next shot of morphine. And I was menstruating. finally this pimply faced 18 year old boy nurses assistant came and I grabbed his hand and wouldn't let go - I was 'throwing a fit' by this time - and he took me to the washroom. He had to clean up the bloody bed too, and probably some piddle as I'd been getting incontinent from the fibroids and was pretty sure I'd pee'd the bed - I hope I didn't turn him off women for all time!

I've always fought to be an advocate, but between enough pain meds to get comfortable, and little enough to keep a clear head to take care of yourself, its tough. I do think the hospital staffing situation is a big part of this, we are grossly short of nurses in this province, and they are worked to death.

Good luck all!
Andi Mc

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