Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Be Alert (for me strangling someone)

I went into the ICU last night to intubate a patient for the surgeon and I saw this sign on the door to the patient's room. Now I know crap like this exists in every workplace and it is generated by some well-meaning safety nannies, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. Just a quick quiz here: What does this sign mean? Give up? Hint: It doesn't mean "be alert".

I was wondering about this as the nurses prepped the patient for the intubation. I felt the need to exclaim at that point to anyone who would listen, "Wow, what a great sign! If this weren't up here I was just going to come in here and fuck around, but now, wow, I'm going to be extra special careful when I paralyze this guy and stick a tube down his trachea!"

After getting thoroughly pissed off at this sign I wondered why it had pissed me off. First, it distracted me from the task at hand because I actually had to think about what it meant. Second, this is not a bee, it's a wasp or a yellow-jacket. Third, the thing is stoned, look at his eyes for crying out loud! Fourth, his legs are amputated. Why? Fifth, if this was meant to be a clever play on words the word is "bee" not "be", otherwise the whole thing just doesn't flow. Finally, some paper shuffler somewhere spent lots of time creating this 'patient care initiative' and now all us stupid nurses and doctors and techs have to 'be alert' when we could otherwise be comatose.

So the answer about what this means is that it is posted as a reminder in patient's rooms who are at risk for falling. Seems that we don't want just anyone to see a sign in plain English that states that the patient is at risk for falling for fear of offending the easily offended. Now this is gargantuanly stupid. I therefore spent a few hours thinking of how this might be improved and I came up with this sign...



  1. Your solution would be way too easy. Hospitals can't do anything the easy way.

  2. you funny. and your eyes so round.

  3. I know exactly what you mean... I started to noticed paper "leaves" hanging on doors to patient rooms. I finally pointed one of these out to a charge nurse and asked "why is there a leaf on this patient's door?" Answer: "the patient is a "fall" risk!"

    I was honestly speachless. I thought I worked in a hospital but evidently it is an oversized, overpriced daycare center.


  4. Wouldn't it be a HIPPA violation to post a notice that the patient is at risk of falling?

    OTOH, aren't virtually ALL the patients in the hospital sick, and therefore somewhat debilitated, and therefore at increased risk of falling?

    I wouldn't know, because I'm a NICU nurse and as long as I leave the side of the bed up and don't let the druggie mom hold the baby too long, my patients aren't really at risk of falling.

  5. How about putting a "patient at risk of falling" for patients that are allergic to bee stings, since the bee is already used on that poster.


    really twisted.

  6. Honestly, I initially thought it meant that the patient had hep B.

    Get it - hep "B"?

    I must be sooooooo stoooopid.

  7. "Wow, what a great sign! If this weren't up here I was just going to come in here and fuck around, but now, wow, I'm going to be extra special careful when I paralyze this guy and stick a tube down his trachea!"

    I nearly wet my pants from laughing so hard. Geez, here I write fiction, and even I can't come up with this stuff. Too funny.

  8. I thought it meant the patient was infested with african bee sickness. We had one of those and put a big bee on the door. The other option was that a colony of stoned bees was taking up shop in the ICU.

  9. dear anonymous. i noted your brilliant idea regarding bee allergy patients. i am in the process of applying for a patent but need a good illustrator to draw a red, swollen generic person falling to allow the illiterate to be on their guard too. ideas?

  10. So many ways to infantilize America; so little time.

    ER Nurse, I feel your rage.

  11. Who exactly are these signs for since no one seems to know what they mean? When I was in the hospital and was radioactive, I got the big radioactive tape over my door. At one point a man wandered in and had one of those bee type signs clipped to his gown. He was alone, and was in my supposedly isolated room. He was harmless and it was actually nice to talk to someone, but if no one is reading the signs, why are they all there?

    It sort of reminds me of the time I went to the gym and was about to get in the pool to swim when someone stopped me. The pool levels were off and the pool was closed for a few hours. I had no idea because there were so many ridiculous signs on the door that I couldn't possibly read them all let alone figure out what all the picture messages meant. I feel like I am in Kindergarten again sometimes, struggling to figure out the secret messages.