"RT STAT to ER," wailed overhead. I had a SOB patient in need of a treatment, but what was I to do? I rushed down to ER to find a kid in no respiratory distress. He didn't even need a treatment. I rushed back up to care for my SOB patient.
When I hear that word "STAT" that's what I think: drop what I'm doing and go (with a few exceptions.)
RT Rule #6: STAT means that you need to get to the patient's side right now. We are talking about a life and death situation.
I've been called to a room stat to do an EKG, only to find out the doctor wanted it done so he could go home. I consider that abuse of the STAT system.
I've been called to pre-op STAT to do an EKG prior to surgery on a scheduled surgery. Those EKGs should be completed way before the surgery so they can be inerpreted.
I've been called STAT to induce a sputum. Once I was called to STAT NT suction patient for this.
After I very reluctantly performed this not indicated and traumatic procedure, the nurse cornered me. He said, "I called that STAT because of the pneumonia protocol, and we had to give the antibiotic within four hours."
"That's a silly reason to call me STAT," I said. And you're lucky I didn't have anything else to do, or I wouldn't have come down right away either. I'm not letting my SOB patients suffer for this.
I was even called to do a STAT Halter Monitor once, but that ended up being the ER staff fooling around with me because they knew I hated doing Halters in ER. I suppose I deserved that one.
The first thing you learn as an RT is that a page to ER is considered a STAT page. I was told that I should be down in ER in about 5 minutes.
When I first started working here I was told by the ER staff how impressed they were at how quickly I got down there to do EKGs and treatments. "You get down here almost twice as fast as any other RT."
I was perplexed. I thought we were supposed to be in ER within 5 minutes. I thought we were supposed to drop whatever we were doing and get down there.
Then I caught on. I realized that I was quitting in the middle of a breathing treatment, rushing down to ER, and doing an EKG on a patient who had leg pain, or abdominal pain, or bad fingernails or something stupid like that. Or I'd get called down there to do a treatment on a kid with a cold.
Either that or I'd get down there and the nurses were putting in a catheter and tell me I had to wait. After a few months of waiting 10-15 minutes each time this happened, I decided I could better utilize my time.
I tried to go to my boss, but they had more pressing issues to deal with. That was a dead end. I learned that other RTs had done the same thing when they first started as RTs. Now we are all slow. According to some ER RNs, we are slow getting to ER because we are lazy.
That's fine, call me lazy, but you guys need to learn how to use the word STAT. I would like a reform of the ER paging system. When I think of STAT I think of running. I think that if I don't get there right away the patinet might die or have prolonged suffering.
One day an ER nurse was blunt with me. "What took you so long to get down here?"
"I'm sorry, I'm swamped," I said. It was true.
"You should at least call so we could do it."
"I was at a code."
Twenty-minutes later I received another page to ER for an EKG, and this time I really was busy and called. An hour later I made it down to ER and the EKG was still not done.
To be fair, most ER staff at Shorline are very understanding that sometimes RT is busy, and that we have to prioritize. And, as it turned out in this case, the nurse that did complain was a rental nurse not familiar with our hospital.
And, even while ER procedures are considered STAT, the people who order them are simply following the current protocol and, thus, doing there jobs.
To correct this problem, we at the RT Cave wrote the following letter. It was signed by all my fellow RTs:
To speed up time from door to EKG for critical patients in the ED, and to allow the respiratory therapy staff leeway in prioritizing EKGs with important therapies on the patient floors, we propose the following paging protocol be instituted for all EKGs ordered in the Emergency Department (ED).
To whom it may concern:
1.EKG Priority One: This page will be sent out for all EKGs ordered on highly critical patients such as obvious MI’s, life threatening arrhythmias, failing patients, etc. Upon receiving this page, the RT will drop what he is doing and run as fast as he can to the ED. If RT is unable to complete the EKG within 5 minutes, the ED will be called and the ED staff will complete the EKG.
2. EKG Priority Two: This page will be sent out for all EKGs that fit under the ACLS protocol where the EKG must be completed within 10 minutes of the patient’s arrival in the ED. Upon receiving this page, the RT should be in the ED within 10 minutes to complete the procedure. If RT is unable meet this time frame, the ED will be called and the ED staff will complete the EKG.
3. EKG Priority Three: This page will be sent out for all EKGs that do not fit under the ACLS protocol, the patient is stable, and a time frame from door to EKG is not essential. Upon receiving this page, the RT will have leeway to complete other
essential procedures prior to arrival in the ED. This page will also be utilized for all pre-op patients, and any patient currently unavailable due to use of commode, bathroom, gone for x-ray,CT, etc.
Ideally, priority three EKGs should be completed within 20 minutes from time of page. If RT is unable to meet this timeframe, the ED will be called with an estimated time of arrival. In some cases,the ED staff may decide to complete the EKG and, if this occurs, RT will be notified the procedure has been completed so they don't have to rush down when they finish the task at hand.
If the ER staff is called to do an EKG, and the EKG is not completed in a timely manner, the RN will have to order pizza for all the RTs on duty. If this is not possible, the total sum of $50 will be extracted from the RNs paycheck and set aside for an end of year RT party.
We believe the implementation of this protocol is essential to improving staff time management, and, more important, improving patient care.
Sincerely, The RT StaffWe understand it's a hell of a lot easier to be called lazy (we're used to that) than to try to change policies and procedures that make no sense. But we had to try with this letter.
If this works, we will tackle STAT ER treatments ordered on patients not having bronchospasm next.