ER 101


In 1983, a doctor that I had worked with suggested I transfer to the Emergency Room at Baylor. I had planned a lengthy tour of Europe and would be gone for a couple of months, so transferring sounded like a good idea. I secured my transfer to the E.R. before leaving for my trip.

When I reported to the E.R. for my first day of duty, I was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (so to speak) and didn't get why the E.R. staff weren't exactly thrilled when introduced to me by the nurse educator. I certainly didn't miss the subtle eye roll and yawn when they were told about my (non-ER) nursing experience and I was blown away by the blatant rudeness of a more experienced E.R. nurse when she snapped "get me a real nurse" after I had entered the room where a patient wasn't doing so well.

In the eighties, nursing academics began discussing how ‘nurses eat their young’, a phrase used to describe an epidemic of how many times 'seasoned' nurses would not be kind or helpful to new or young nurses but rather, teach through intimidation, fear and bullying. Believe me, those nurses were most definitely in the ER and gave me a new understanding into the naming of 'nurse sharks'. That being said, without any ER experience, the truth of the matter was that I knew I had to ‘prove’ myself and that I needed them more than they needed me. Fortunately, the practice of 'nurses eating their young' has gone by the wayside. Nurses are generally more supportive and helpful to the newbies.

I accepted the challenge of Emergency Nursing and did my best to present myself as a self confident, skilled and knowledgable nurse and made every effort to befriend even the most bloodthirsty of nurse sharks. Humor helped alot and I learned that when you swim with sharks you'd best not let them see you as bait.

The following are just a few of the new terms and phrases that I had to learn ...

ER Vocabulary

  • ABC – Airway, Breathing, Circulation

  • Biotel – a central communications center that is staffed with nurses, doctors and paramedics who communicate and advise with various ambulance services. They are also responsible for designating the hospital that receives the patient based upon predetermined criteria.

  • Bat Phone – a red telephone in the ER that is a direct line to/from Biotel

  • Blunt Trauma – hit with a baseball bat or crunched in a car wreck

  • Code - normally a respiratory and/or cardiac arrest but there were many 'codes' used in the hospital. If someone "called a code" it could mean starting or ending CPR

  • C-Collar – Cervical Immobilization Collar – neck brace

  • DFD – Dallas Fire Department (and ambulance)
    Code 1 – lights only Code 4 – lights and sirens
    Priority 1 – easy Priority 4 – see train wreck

  • ETOH – Blood Alcohol or just alcohol as in “ETOH abuser”

  • FB – Foreign Body

  • GCS – Glasgow Coma Scale

  • Gomerade – 1 liter of Normal Saline with Multivitamin, Folic Acid and Vit B12 added – used for ETOH abusers (gomers) - Now the term is "Banana Bag" - much more politically correct.

  • GSW – Gun shot wound

  • LP – lumbar puncture (spinal tap)

  • LOC – Level of Consciousness

  • LOL/LOM – Little old lady/man

  • MVA – Motor vehicle accident

  • MVC – Motor vehicle collision/crash … around 1995 MVA was changed to MVC. According to the Board of Trauma Surgeons “There are no accidents. Every crash is preventable.”

  • MCA/MCC – Motor Cycle Accident/Crash

  • POPTA – passed out prior to arrival

  • Pit – the ER

  • PTA - Prior to arrival

  • Penetrating Trauma – stab wound, projectile wound, gun shot wound, puncture wound etc.

  • Ruptured triple A – see train wreck (ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm)

  • Ruptured ectopic – see train wreck (ruptured pregnancy gestating in a fallopian tube)

  • SW – Stab Wound

  • Thumper - A mechanism used to deliver chest compressions to a patient in cardiac arrest

  • Train wreck – any really bad trauma or pt in really bad condition.

  • Tox Screen – Blood or urine specimen to determine presence of opiates, amphetamines, cannabis etc.  
Knife & Gun Club - Part 1

    No Comments Yet, Leave Yours!