I worked a locum shift during the weekend. Nothing stressful, just an admin shift. I pretty much sat around all day, flicking through paper and typing entries onto a computer. I expected it to be a chilled shift, so I didn’t even bother wearing my stethoscope. This particular shift meant that I was sort of spread across different wards, but I didn’t have any clinical duties, so I wasn’t seeing patients anything like that.
That all changed one minute to the end of my shift. I was called over by a nurse to review an unresponsive lady. I felt so unprepared. Like I said, I wasn’t expecting to do anything clinical, I’d left my stethoscope in my bag. And I know the training that we get gives us what we need to do when a person becomes acutely unwell. I don’t know why, but in that moment I felt really unprepared. I went over and kind of went through the steps of assessing this elderly lady. To me, she wasn’t unresponsive but it’s hard for me to know how well she’d been an hour before. I don’t know how she’s like normally. I try to examine her, whilst giving some instructions to the nurses and dodge around 3 family members. It all felt very haphazard.
The medical registrar came and took over, and he must have thought I was slow or something because he just did everything himself.
Driving out an hour later then I should have been, I just felt deflated. I felt like I could have done so much better. And I use the excuse that I’ve feel like I’m out of the loop after having done surgery for so long but really, is that a reason?
I was thinking about it all the way home. Just picking over the situation again and again.
It’s hard to remember exactly what happened because my mind was somewhere else. So this is was what I think happened: I’m trying to join a dual carriageway with three lanes. I can see two cars, one blue car in the middle lane and another in the furthest lane (right lane). I look right, then left and then start to pull out. Then I break suddenly, to stop myself crashing into the blue car speeding past in front of me. I’m sure it wasn’t there before so I wonder whether it swapped lanes when I looked away.
And I mention this because, it made me think. I was so concerned about how stupid I looked and how I did a bad job. I took that issue which was self contained (the patient was ok, the registrar had reviewed her) and I made it affect my driving to the point where I could have been in an accident. That would have been a much bigger problem and I’m really glad I narrowly avoided that.
So, this really is a lesson for me, more than anything else. Be more careful and don’t make a bigger mess of things.