On our hospital paging system we have a variety of message choices, among which are “Bedpan,” “Blood sugar,” “Assist,” “Turn patient,” “Equipment beeping,” and so on. If a nurse passes any room and hears beeping, she’ll go in, identify and usually fix the problem as necessary (adjust an IV, restart suction, tell the patient to take a few deep breathes, lunch is on its way, etc.). That way the beeps are fixed and we’re not continually answering “Equipment beeping” pages.

Now normally, the unit’s nurses will just go in and take care of the problem on the fly, and we’ll only tell you about it if it is something you need to chart or put on your to-do list for later in the shift (like a bag of IV fluids that will need replacing). But for the past few days, my fellow employees have been entertaining themselves by telling me, “Room 58’s beeping again,” then walking away laughing.

It’s the damned patient. He’s an 85-yo dementia patient who sits in his bed intermittently going, “Beep! Beep! Beep!” all frickin’ day long. But honestly? I’ll take a beeper over a spitter any day of the week.

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