July 6, 2011

Code Red

I had my first night call on peds yesterday. "What is night call?" you might be wondering (I'm looking at you, mom and dad) Well, for me - it means that for this week instead of arriving at the hospital at 6am and leaving at 6pm, I arrive at 6pm and leave at 6am (or whenever the senior resident sends me home).

Yesterday, my fellow med student and I rolled into the hospital at 5:30pm in scrubs, armed with coffee, pagers, stethoscopes, and study materials (sometimes if it's a slow night, there's a lot of time to study, or so we hear).

Soon, the daytime resident starts "sign out" which is when they tell the night team (hey, that's us!) what happened during the day with each patient and what they need to make sure to check or evaluate overnight. About two patients into this sign out, all 14 pages at our table go off (each resident has at least 3) with a message something like this "CODE RED. APPROX 3YM IN MVA DRIVER DEAD AT SCENE. LOC AND FEMUR FX. AIR ARRIVAL 1840."

we calmly finish one more patient then race down to the emergency department where we spend the next 8 hours - first, with this trauma, next with a 13 year old who was in a different type of motor vehicle accident (MVA), and then with a months old baby with suspected sepsis. Before we knew it, it was 1:30 and we were just getting dinner. I actually really loved it. except for this morning when I felt a little bit like death.

the top 5 things I like about night call so far:
* fewer people running around the hospital
* there's a smaller staff that has to communicate more; it has a "we're all in this together - we are holding back the world" type feel
* drinking coffee at 3 pm and not worrying if it's going to ruin my night's sleep
*having time to do all the things I'm normally too busy working to do
*getting to sit and rock a baby that can't sleep because that's my JOB.

and the best part so far?
the parents of the little baby with possible sepsis decided to go home to be with their other very young children, but were so worried about leaving their baby at the hospital overnight without them, that the mom looked at me and said "You'll hold him if he cries? You'll be checking on him?" and I could say
"yes, ma'am I will - I'll be here all night"


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