Moments of Compassion When Minutes Count

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In just a couple weeks, I’ll be in Fort Lauderdale presenting for the Emergency Nurses Association annual convention. Very pumped to be working with this group! One of the things I hope to bring across in the keynote is to reinforce how every moment of communication with a patient in the E.D. is an opportunity to bring across competence and compassion.


I know that many nurses who work the emergency room will tell you that some members of the public use the E.R. like a walk in clinic. And since E.R.s aren’t really allowed to turn anyone away, their patients are often looking for an excuse to get out of work, or seeking pharmaceuticals or any number of other “impairments” which truly don’t go under the heading of emergency medicine.


I’m not talking about these patients. I’m referring to those who truly have an emergency and who truly need help.


I haven’t been to the E.R. in, yeesh, probably three years. And, unless I think I’m going to die or there’s unstoppable bleeding or something, I’ll just wait until I can see my G.P. I don’t believe in clogging up emergency medicine with issues that can wait 24 hours. Oh, and note to non-health care professionals: if at all possible, do NOT go to the E.R. on a Monday. This is when all those with underlying reasons show up to keep from going to work. My last E.R. visit took five hours until I got out of the waiting room. In that time, “patients” would waltz in complaining (I swear to you) of a rash on a wrist. Seriously? Seriously.


Anyway, enough of that. Those in emergency health care have such an opportunity to help patients when they are at their most vulnerable. Usually, patients don’t go to the E.R. because they want to, it’s because they have to. And, if a patient is admitted to the hospital, they’re usually in the E.R. for a limited number of hours. Like, ideally, less than one. Therefore, the time E.R. health care pros spend with patients is short. Yet, because people are hyper-aware during their vulnerable times, the interactions with emergency health care pros is so, so valueable.


A nurse friend sent me a link to the following article. It’s the exception, not the rule, for a number of reasons. I just wanted to share it with you, faithful reader, to inspire you to know there is still compassion and caring in emergency medicine. Here’s the link:




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