I went in for an echocardiogram last week to see if I still had shunting at my PFO closure (if the hole my heart was still not fully closed and if there was oxygenated blood still mixing with oxygenated blood), and it turn out to be quite the adventure.
I went to my new cardiologist’s office rather than make the trek into Mt. Sinai to get it done. When I made the appointment I told them that it was a bubble test echo, meaning they had to inject saline into an IV for the test. I also sent a copy of the order two days before the test via fax so the office would be prepared when I got there.
The fax and the note that it was a gas bubble test somehow (surprise, surprise) never made it to who ever needed to know. When I got there, I handed the tech the job order and noted that it needed to be a gas bubble test. Of course she knew nothing and was not prepared for it, had never done a gas bubble echo, and clearly panicked.
I eventually had a regular echo done and was told that the doctor would himself perform the bubble test echo. I was led to another room where a nurse would come and put in an IV line for the bubble test.
The nurse came in with another nurse who was to look on at the more experienced nurse. The “more experienced” nurse, a young woman with pink streaks in her blond hair, tied a tourniquet around my right arm so tightly I thought she was preparing me for an amputation. I told her it was too tight and asked if she could slacken it. This is where it went down hill. I suppose that by me telling her it was too tight, I made her look bad in front of the junior nurse, so she let out a very loud sigh and untied it, and retied it again. This time it was not as tight, but it was still very tight. I decided to say nothing.
Next she began looking for a vein. I have large veins in my hand and arm and never has anyone had difficulty to find one. They were protruding, all nice and green below my skin, clearly visible from space. However, the nurse kept twisting my hand looking for the ideal spot. I told her that I do not like IVs placed in the crux of the elbow area and prefer to have them in my hand. I showed her the nice big fat juicy vein that every body loves to use. It’s kinda scary that I have a favorite vein for IVs isn’t it? She said that she prefered the vein on the inside of my wrist. I was hesitant and told her I did not like that spot. It would cause severe bruising because that is the point at which the wrist bends, and the needle in the vein would be moving around too much when I move my hand. I advised her that I am on blood thinners and vasodilators.
She said that she would do it there and that it was the best spot. She then, all the while with my arm tied in the tourniquet, began to lay out all that she needs to place the IV needle. My arm began to tingle and I could feel my veins getting bigger. I told her this and that she needed to take the tourniquet off. She said she was ready, and I told her that the tourniquet was on for too long, and that she needed to take it off.
Without a word, she quickly took the needle and put it into the vein that I did not want her to use and as she did so, I don’t know if it was the pressure build up, but blood spurted out of the needle, onto her clothes, the floor, the chair, flew across the room to the opposite wall. It looked as if a slasher had just killed his latest victim in that room. My entire hand was covered in blood and it just kept dripping until she eventually got it under control. I remained calm. The only thing the nurse had to say was “shit”. She finished doing a horrible job of getting the IV line in and quickly left to get her clothes cleaned up, never once saying sorry or asking if I was okay. It was the junior nurse that apologized on her behalf and was left to clean up the room and my blood soaked hand. The “experienced” nurse never came back to see if I was okay.
I was going to write my doctor and let him know about this, but decided not to. This is a new cardiologist that I just started seeing. I don’t want to go in there with the reputation of being a complainer. Who knows what I will have done to me if I was branded a complainer. I left my last cardiologist because of the inefficient staff. If anything happens again, I will let him know, and I have the pictures to prove it. I just know that if I ever need anything to do with needles in that office, I know to request another nurse.
Update: After this incident I went back for a check up and the nurse in question gave major attitude when taking my pressure and pulse. I asked her what was her problem and she just scoffed and left the room. When the doctor came in I told him about her attitude and he gave some stupid excuse. I then told him about the blood incident and he looked at me as if I was taking shit, so I showed him the above photo. He asked if I was sure it was her. I just got up and walked out and never went back.
Please note, the despite my occasional complaining about some nurses, for every bad nurse that I deal with there are at least a hundred great nurses that go out of their way and are pleasant.
Originally Posted March 4, 2013