"You could kill your patient…"

I'm tired of hearing all the different ways I could screw up and permanently hurt or kill someone.

While normally we learn about different diagnoses, and it's all lollipop and sunshines, there are days where it seems the moral of the lecture is “If you mess up, your patient could die.”

We had a visiting lecturer on traumatic brain injuries the other day, from a physical therapist who works in the ICU. She gave us a brief overview of all the different leads and machines that might be hooked up, and included at least two stories of how a therapist either almost or did kill a patient due to doing something wrong, like moving a patient's head in relationship to a machine after a ventriculostomy? Or something like that. The point is, we're students, and when you tell us about a bunch of stuff we've never seen and warn us we could kill someone, it mostly just serves to overwhelm us and scare us. I know we need to be aware of the dangers and that we could potentially make fatal mistakes, but seriously now, we probably don't need to hear it a year before our rotations ever start. Tell us what we need to know about NOT killing our patients right before we are put in applicable situations as students. Because I'm not going to remember the specific way we could kill the patient – I'm just going to vaguely remember that therapists have killed patients when working in an ICU, and be frightened to work there.

We have another professor who has ten thousand years of amazing experience who likes to do similar things – not with death, but just lots and lots of reminders of how we could hurt our patients. If we stretch them too much we'll hurt their joints. If we don't stretch them enough we'll give them contractures. If we bend them this way and they have a certain injury they'll never be able to use their hands again. If we are too aggressive with ROM we'll cause heterotrophic ossification. If we do NDT/Neuro-IFRAH/other big treatments, we'll do this/that/something else/nothing/because everything has flaws/everything has evidence proving it/not proving it. I know, again, we need to know there is a specific way of doing things. I just wish there was more focus on doing the right thing, not NOT doing the right thing.

It's confusing. It's overwhelming. I realize we can hurt patients if we aren't careful. I realize this is especially true in acute settings. But for the love of all that is good in this world, stop bringing it up so much when we are still almost a year away from our rotations. It just scares us.

That's my two cents – some therapists/professors/students may have a different view of it, and if so, please share your thoughts.


Moving on to other news. Today we had a hideous test. I studied hard and still didn't recognize a lot of the questions. I didn't feel like I could have studied the material anymore and known the answers – they were weird things I just don't recall even being in the notes. And if a professor says something only once and it isn't backed up again in the books, the notes, or a verbal repeat, chances are, it's not going to stick. So the test was very frustrating. Especially the day after I posted Study Tips and bragged about how I'm a great test-taker!! In my possibly arrogant opinion however, if the typically highest scoring people in the class all agree the test did not match the study material, then something is wrong….  At least the test on Monday wasn't bad.

TOMORROW I LEAD GROUP!!!!!!!! AUGH AUGH AUGH OMG OMG OMG OMG SCARY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tomorrow's post will probably be about Group (I hope exhilarated and not depressed), and then Thursday's post is going to be about the OTPF (Occupational Therapy Practice Framework) …know it, love it, you'll never get away from it.

Aug 29, 2007 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 2