a little east of reality

Friday, May 06, 2005

fun-filled hours in triage

I got the call just before leaving work. Little Drummer Girl has slid on the gravel in the driveway and may have broken her ankle. A short time later DG, her folks, and I were in the car heading for Emergency. That was around 6pm.

What I learned tonight was that registered nurses in Australia have the authority to make triage decisions. Emergency rooms serve you in turn according to the severity of your injury/illness and the nurse decides who is going next. What a nurse doesn't have the authority to do, however, is order an x-ray. Yes, you guessed it. 31/2 hours in the waiting room, only to have the doctor look at it and say, 'hmmmm, that'll need to be x-rayed'.

No!? Really?? o_O

The nurse had told us the same thing about thirty seconds after we walked in. If we'd have done the x-ray then, DG could have walked (okay wheeled) into the doctor's office and actually gotten a diagnosis. In reality that diagnosis came 1 1/2 hours later. Another hour to make and set the cast and we were finally released into the night.

Poor DG. Setting the bone is always a painful business and this was no exception. It was also a nasty fracture, so it's likely she has surgery tomorrow. Tonight's cast was put on only to stop her from further displacing the bone while she's sleeping. After surgery she'll get a new, lighter cast.