For those of you who are getting to know me, I’ve been in the medical field for over twenty years and have had some interesting experiences.
Medical shows love to use imaging
procedures in their episodes, but often times the scenes do not follow a
realistic procedure protocol or the drama is escalated in over the top
Everything from doctor’s running
the MRI machine to using the wrong probes or technology in ultrasound, our
television shows get the details wrong more often than right. Good thing most
actors are easy on the eyes so we tend to forgive the script errors a bit more.
In an effort to provide positive
change and help writers produce accurate material for their storylines, the
What Could Go Wrong Series will reveal real-life cases witnessed by personnel
in healthcare environments or realistic scenarios that could happen in a
A man with a high alcohol level
came into the x-ray department from the ER for multiple images of his arm and
shoulder. He’d been in a bar fight.
Technologist positioned the man’s
arm into a painful posture to get diagnostic images. The man cussed the
radiographer. With his good arm, he hauled off and hit the healthcare
professional, knocking her to the floor. She got back up, dusted herself off
and dove back in, calling for help to restrain the patient.
Unlike most TV shows where a slew
of physicians rush in to aid the staff, our doctors remained in their radiology
offices or in the ER department tending to other patient cases. If we waited
for them to intervene, the attacker could inflict more damage.
In real life, other x-ray team
members entered and donned lead shields. They held the man in position while
another radiographer took the image from outside the room. Healthcare workers
acted in the moment and moved as a team to keep the scenario under control.
If for some reason, a physician had
been nearby or in the department, then they might help with the situation.
However, most radiologists read from their offices and ER doctors remain in
their workspace taking care of other trauma cases.
Real World Facts
Radiographers and other healthcare
professionals must deal with verbal patient abuse. When things turn physical, we
must stay calm and keep a clear head.
A 2017 study by the National
Institute of Health determined that patient to worker assault in the healthcare
setting was a serious occupational hazard with frontline staff being at a
higher risk for Type II violence. (Arnetz, 2017)
These scenarios impact the employee’s wellbeing, decrease morale, and can cause depressions or even post-traumatic stress long after the incident is over.
Now, imagine a TV character with
this storyline. A drunk patient attacks the healthcare worker, a nurse, doctor,
technologist, etc. and the emotional and psychological stress impacts every
area of their life for several months. Even after the patient sobers, the
effects of what he’s done could provide issues in his life and or recovery.
Sounds like an episode or two with
loads of drama yet realistic to real world healthcare.
Judith E, et al. “Preventing Patient-to-Worker Violence in Hospitals: Outcome of a
Randomized Controlled Intervention.” J Occup Environ Med, Jan. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5214512/