Today, my favorite x-ray tech emerged with a chart from a patient whom he took from the waiting room to do a chest x-ray.  Waiting times in our ER today were 3-5 hours long, so a little bit of time is saved by taking patients straight from the waiting room to the x-ray area.

So Curly the tech came out waving a chart.  “Somebody needs to put a chest tube in this kid,” he nonchalantly stated to nobody in particular.  He ceremoniously spun a slow 360 degrees to see if anyone was listening, then shrugged his shoulders, dropped the chart off to the charge nurse and went back to his dark room, his job was done.

A colleague who ended up with his chart a few minutes later asks, “How would you like to to a chest tube in 10, while I do a spinal tap in room 11?”

Hmmm…when was the last time I put a chest tube in?  It’s been awhile…I think in Colorado last summer when a lady who was choking developed a pneumothorax after receiving the heimlich maneuver.

After evaluating the young man, I wrote some brief orders to get things started.  The problem was, none of the nurses had ever done a chest tube before!

We recruited two nurses from other zones, one of whom has done countless chest tubes in our ER, the other has worked at a trauma center before, but it was her first day at our hospital.

So without going through all the details of putting in a chest tube, the process was quickly completed.  His nurse administered sedation was perfect, he fell asleep while I made the initial incision and placed the tube.  As the nurse were joking to themselves the patient started laughing.  He was asleep, but listening and laughing at our jokes!

Curly repeated the chest x-ray and it looked beautiful with a fully expanded lung.   Another life saved.