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Why It Takes Time To Get Pain Medicine In The ER

druggie:loc

Migraine.

Three days.

Out of pain medication and vomiting so you wouldn’t keep it down, anyway.

Agony.

Emergency department.

*****

You’re in luck -  no one in triage!

A bed opens up, the nurse takes you straight to a room.

Gown, blanket.

And….

Two minutes later you send your cousin out to ask how long it will be until you get your pain med.

Excuse me?

*****

There is an unrealistic expectation of just how long it takes to get pain medication in an ER.

A few procedures that need to occur before that shot gets to its destination.

  • Registration – We must have the information. The admitting clerk is not trying to hassle by asking for your address and birthday and ID.  We need that information to officially identify our patients when we give medication.
  • Examination – There must be an evaluation by the physician or the nurse practitioner before medication can be given. There may be patients who arrived before you who have yet to be evaluated; there may be patients who arrived after you experiencing  life-threatening issues.  Either way, they will be seen first.
  • Orders – The physician/NP writes the order for your medication. Your nurse, also responsible for other patients, may be busy in another room.  They will notice that medication has been ordered and take the chart to prepare the meds.
  • Medication Preparation - The nurse pulls the medications from the medication dispensing system. The medications are carefully drawn up and all syringes are labeled before they leave the med room.  The nurse will bring them to your bedside.

And you get your shot.

It’s so basic, really. Organized. Logical.

But it is not instantaneous.

Nothing in the ER is instantaneous except CPR when you go into cardiopulmonary arrest.

So, understand that you will probably have to do a certain amount of waiting before you receive your pain medication. It’s okay to ask for an update if you aren’t sure of what is going on.

But at least let your cousin sit for longer than two minutes before you send him out to remind us that you are in pain.

We didn’t forget.

*This blog post was originally published at Emergiblog*


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