Sunday, November 22, 2009

Code Blue, Then and Now

11:30 pm - Cackling though the overhead intercom system:
“Code Blue, Three East, Room 236”

A thunderous herd of medical students, residents, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, social workers, security personnel descend on the scene. Arriving, the chief resident is in charge at the foot of the bed. IV’s have been started, some young well-muscled individual is bobbing up and down on the unseen’s chest, brow glistening with sweat, but focused. An anesthesiologist, noting the agonal rhythm, works to secure the airway, then a central line. Nurses administer drugs, bring line kits. Airway secured. “EKG? Where’s the EKG?” Electrode replaced. “Story? Who’s got the story?” Ten. Twenty. Thirty. The minutes pass. Finally, silence, as the monitors removed and the group departs. Like sound and fury, signifying nothing.
11:30 pm – The pager sounds:
* bleep bleep bleep *
A digital image appears on the screen: CODE BLUE, Room 2001

I was not on call, but I wondered, “Was this a patient of mine?” “Did I forget someone?” I raised my head from the pillow and strolled in to the accompanying room where my outdated computer sat and waited while it booted. “What might have happened?” “Is it someone old or young?” Thoughts spun just as the disk drive. Waiting. I typed by keyfob’s codes, I entered by password twice, I waited some more then the electronic medical record appeared and I checked the name next to the room number. For the first time, the number meant something: a person, 88 yrs old, yet someone I did not know. The scene appeared from miles away.

I sat back and perused the chart. Heart attack, conservative management, hypotension, fluid bolus given, then nothing more.

A few more keystrokes and the computer went black.

Then sleep came poorly once again.


OHN said...


Anonymous said...


While not 88 but retired, widowed and with a body that is starting to fall apart, I sure do think the second description sounds like progress to me.