ER's get busy on holidays and code blue

Since I was in the ER yesterday, I took the chance to entertain myself by asking questions and watching the process.

This afternoon, as I was being escorted to the pharmacy, the technician said they had “3 Code Blues” at once last night (Thanksgiving). Now, being a good punk rock, that brought up memories of the TSOLsong, which couldn’t be the Code Blue that the hospital was referring to. Wiki says “Code Blue” is generally used to indicate a patient requiring resuscitation or otherwise in need of immediate medical attention, most often as the result of a respiratory arrest or cardiac arrest.

Now, when I walked into the ER last night about 8:00pm complaining of a sharp stabbing pain in the front of my right chest, I’m not sure if this triggered one of the Code Blues? They did have an EEG on me probably less than 2 minutes later in one of the front evaluation rooms. It wasn’t a heart attack, BTW, and they dialed back the urgency a few notches once the EEG was done.

Those fine folks did wheelchair me into one of the real ER rooms within a couple of minutes. Did all my vitals, asked questions while it felt like someone was stabbing my right nipple area with a red hot knitting needle every deep breath, just about every body posture and when I coughed. I knew to mention the 2 round trips I had flown over the past 3 weeks to china and to taiwan. So, they had to rule out blood clots. Xray, which indicated the blood clots rather than pneumonia, then the MRI . MRI was wierd as they injected me with a dye that caused my entire body to flush hot in a split second and lasted at least a few minutes.

Doc said “congratulations, blood clots in both lungs. Good thing they are non-lifethreatening. Threatment to start immediately.” I requested a chance to take a whiz before getting down to saving my life, and they said “we can’t let you go to a restroom, but here’s a nice container.” Actually, the nurse was really nice and asked if I needed help. She also said to call her Nurse Rachet if that made me feel better. :slight_smile: then pulled the privacy screen.

I tried to just roll over for a good angle but remember that red hot knitting needle in my chest? Gah, after what seemed like I’d been stabbed about 50 times, I managed to stand up but knocked the empty receptical to the floor. I called out “excuse me, I need some help nurse…Rachet” She picked up the container, gave it to me and went back to the station in the hall and remarked to a cow-orker: “He just needed readjustment not a hand.” :o

They started the Haparin (sp?) IV and I asked how about something for the pain? “So, tell me Mr. China Guy, on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it?” “11 when I move or breath.” “Well, I’ve got some good narcotics for you.” And did they, shesh, I’ve never shot smack but that stuff gave me an idea of what goes on. Whatever they gave me hit about 2 seconds later and I was floating!

Walking in the ER to hospital bed took about 3 1/2 hours. If it’s not clear from the above, the entire staff was quite helpful, patient and professional. Everyone asked if I had my turkey dinner before coming in and seemed genuinely happy that I did. Most of them had had family dinners early and then come into work. They explained that the after dinner rush on holidays is when things get real busy. People over eat, drink, have accidents, whatever, and it’s a busy night.

This morning, the nurse said if I was up for self injection with a really teeny tiny thin needle, I could probably go home today. Otherwise, 5 more days in the hospital with an IV. I’ve never injected myself but I really hate having an IV. So, did a ultrasound early in the morning to make sure there were no additional clots hiding in my legs. That was negative.

My wife and 3 kids showed up and we all waited for the Doc and the check out process. I injected myself, had a good chat with the quack, got a box of drugs and home by 1:00.

Be careful on those long flights to get up, walk, do the leg stretching exercises, etc.

So, would mine have been one of the three code blues or do you have to have more symptoms?

A blood clot to the lung is pretty serious all right, but luckily for you it doesn’t sound like you had a code blue.
A “code blue” is typically called when the person is unresponsive and pretty much dead (well, except for those times when someone calls a code and it turns out to be a false alarm, which does happen too). A ton of people come rushing into the room when a code blue is called. It’s basically a last ditch effort to raise the dead, often involves things like getting out the defibrillator and shocking the person’s heart back into a normal rhythm. Most people who “code” either die or suffer devastating brain damage (though there are a few “miracles” who manage to survive and recover).
It’s definitely possible to end up coding from a bad enough blood clot to the lungs, so you’re lucky it wasn’t worse than it was.

Wow, sounds like you are very, very lucky not to have been one of those codes! And I understand completely about the pain medicine: only once have I ever had an IV painkiller, and it was all kinds of awesome! I think it was Demerol, and it was so very, very relaxing! I’m glad that I don’t have regular access!

But yes, holidays can be all kinds of ridiculous for emergency personnel. Yesterday during my husband’s 12-hour shift, he was called out for two domestic disputes, three cases of Christmas decorations being stolen from yards, and two suspected heart attacks that turned out to be bad indigestion. Things got more hectic for the overnight shift.

Best/funniest case of the day: 911 call dispatched as an unresponsive octogenarian. First responders arrived on scene only to discover that Granny fell asleep without her hearing aids. She woke quite easily when someone gently shook her arm.

When people stop breathing, they turn blue (cyanotic). Hence, “code blue.”

I’m glad you went to the ER, anyway, so many people dismiss chest pains because they think they otherwise “feel fine” and really are having a heart attack. I’m glad your blood clots were found and treatable, and didn’t travel to a worse place, though it sounds like you were in so much pain!

Drugs are good.

Just to further clarify…

Technically speaking, a code blue means there is a respiratory and/or cardiac arrest (stoppage). In reality, though, most codes are called before the patient actually reaches that point. The real goal is to prevent arrest rather than treat it.

ETA: Glad you’re OK, China Guy!

Thanks for the well wishes and now I think I’m pretty clear on the code blue thing.

My pain is not nearly as sharp today and starting to abate. Not sure how long it will last. I’ve got an appointment at the clinic on Monday to check how thin the blood is and to make adjustment to the meds. Looks like I probably have to take blood thinner for about 6 months. If I have another incident it will be a lifetime thing, which I surely do not want.

Once I get the Straight Dope on how to avoid this on long flights, I’ll post here. Basically, you need to do leg stretching and walk around at least every three hours on the flight.

I’m glad you are doing better.
I’ve Code Brown before. (and whatever the code is for puking all over the place, good, good times.)

Never had a Code Blue, but a few weeks ago they kept the defibrillator next to my bed until the scheduled jolt.

That was because I had just had a bad aortic valve replaced. Two of the three flaps were fused, probably from birth, leading to congestive heart failure. (When I first heard of it, I told the guy explaining the scan “OK, I’m a bivalve, so I’ll clam up and let you talk.”)

I also love those opiates, and agree that it’s a good thing they’re nott too available.

Anyway, China Guy, glad you’re OK,

I’ve never had a Code Blue, but I have had some pretty bad medical stuff.

A few moths ago I was walking down the halls during passing time (I’m a high school student), I was starting new medication, and I collapsed. I was going to the bathroom to number two, but five seps after I left the classroom, I collapsed on the floor. When I woke up, it was five minutes later, and thankfully I hadn’t relieved myself. My first question was “can I go to the bathroom?” I spent the rest of the day lying down in a cot in the nurse’s room.

Glad you’re doing okay, it always makes me sad when I read those kinds of stories and they don’t end well. Did you ever find out what caused the clots?

Likely taking ambien on 12 hour plane flights and thus allowing blood to pool in my leg veins. I did 4 transpacific flights in 12 days. A little too hardcore.

I’m glad you are ok.

A friend of mine had a clot several years ago. It had travelled from a bruised area on his leg that he had injured a few days before. I guess it hurt pretty bad, but he figured it was nothing. I can’t remember if it went in his lung or somewhere else, but somehow it got in his stomach, or did something to his stomach, and he almost died a few times. He had massive surgery on his gut, and swelled up like crazy. They had to do skin grafts and all sorts of shit to repair it. Then it happened again a few months later, only that time it had caused part of his intestine to necrotize. And he almost died again. They told him he had some kind of clotting disorder, so he’ll have to take blood thinners forever. Luckily, he’s been ok for quite a while, so his prognosis is good.

First recorded incident of “Business Class Syndrome”? :wink:

Damn, take care of yourself.

Code Technicolor?

Where I work “code blue” used to be only for actual respiratory or cardiac arrest. In the past couple of years we’re also encouraged to call it when a patient is declining fast. For example, blood pressure bombing, nonresponsive. Basically when you believe that respiratory and/or cardiac arrest is imminent. So, from your related symptoms, I’d think you were not one of the “code blues”.

As an aside -

My experience is that another big reason the ED & hospital in general gets busy right after a holiday celebration is that people who would normally seek medical attention put it off because they don’t want to miss the holiday. So you end up with a lot of people with chronic illnesses requiring regular hospitalizations (like COPD) and injuries that occured prior to the holiday coming in later.

Depending on what you’ve eaten - the Double Rainbow.

Long ago, Ducati Jr. broke his lil arm. As we all waited in the exam room - mom, 2yo sis, me, the boy - the cavalry came bursting in. Flipping on lights, grabbing equipment, pushing everyone away from the bed before realizing the patient is sitting upright and looking around.

Someone called “Sister did it”, and everyone deflated and got back to normal. You could tell this was a common drill.

Seems that the Code Button is a brightly lit button on the wall, conveniently located behind my wife’s chair. Lil sister was pushing it repeatedly for her amusement with none of us the wiser. It makes no noise or notice in the room itself, ya know?

We could feel their stares as they left. Man, I hate being That Guy.

We were back there last week, after a major renovation to the CHOA ER.
Now the code button is under a cover you have to move, then flip. Not as easy for little ones to operate.
Good you’re doing better.
A couple of years ago, my FIL wasn’t feeling well after Thanksgiving dinner.
He went outside to get some fresh air. We found him unconscious in the driveway a few minutes later. Heart attack city. Luckily we got the amber lamps rolling immediately and they got him to the ER in time.

Note to everyone: it’s never just heartburn! Get thee to the ER ASAFP.*

When I was in labor the first time, my husband was using the bathroom and bumped the button with his elbow. A nurse came tearing in, yelling, “what happened?” Of course, I had no idea - he was still in there.

I don’t think I wanna know. But I bet it’s a hell of a story.

Having spent many, many hours in a hospital, I’ve heard them call code blues, but also code red for fire or fire drill. Nurses come around and close doors, while reassuring patients that it is just a drill.
Last time I was in ICU, the guy in the cubicle next to me coded and they all rushed in there, but to no avail. There’s nothing more silent than people leaving the room after the person has died in there.