I've seen and heard some awful things in my twoish years in the ER. Child abuse, nursing home patients all but abandoned by their family, a little kid crying over their dead parents after a horrific accident, the mishap that ends up being murder...I've seen a lot. Most of it doesn't surprise me; but every now and then something happens that really makes me wonder how humanity is going to survive. Are we really this cruel on a daily basis?
We've had a recent string of unbelievably bad car accidents, where people come in so jacked up it's hard to believe they're actually alive. The other night, another MVA rolls in and we get four or five patients from it. All but one were minimally hurt - scrapes, a broken wrist, that kind of stuff. The last one...he won't ever be the same person. If he survives the long recovery process, that is.
Suffice to say, the accident was life changing for the one patient and a nuisance to the rest of them. I'm one of the nurses taking care of the real bad patient, and I'm standing at the charge desk for a second to sign for the blood products that we're massively transfusing while this guy is trying to die. One of the other patients was getting a portable XR, so the family had been kicked out of the room for just a second - and they are in the next room to the bad patient. The curtain is closed, but they can hear what is happening. They can see the dozens of people involved. I then overhear one of them griping about the accident: "I can't believe that guy was so stupid. He wrecked that motorcycle, and my girlfriend had to slam on the brakes and someone hit her from behind. That fucker wrecked and now her head hurts. I hope that gravel tasted real good; he deserves it."
No. No, no, no. I wished I could have violated HIPAA in every way and dragged this ass into the room. I wanted to shake him, and point at the kid dying and say really?! This guy wrecked his motorcycle because someone ran a stop sign and hit him. This kid is dying. If he survives, he will never walk again. Your girlfriend has a sore lump on her head and this patient is forever changed. No one deserves this. Ever. I wanted to yell at him, snark at him, hit him, or something.
But I didn't. I got my blood products, and went back into the room, and continued trying to help save this patient's life. Because that is what this patient really deserved.
Are we really that cruel? Yes. people are.