My Big Emergency Room Experience!

I had to visit the emergency room at my local hospital on Sat. night…had some rather alarming chest pains, and my heart seemed to be beating faster than usual. They did a EKG, plus the standard gamut of blood tests, and put me in cold storage to wait it out with a saline drip in my arm.

My room was semi-private; on the other side of the curtain, a young guy with extreme stomach pains from a old gunshot stomach wound that had been operated on several times was twisted up and crying from his pain while his girlfriend tried to console him and flag down any passing nurse or doctor.

After 2 hours, some haughty nurse came in and checked him out. Now, this guy was hurting. I couldn’t see him, but could hear his panting breath and moans. This tight-assed nurse says, “Well, we’ll give you a shot of Motrin, that’s all we can give you”. As you can imagine, it did exactly nothing for his pain, and he resumed his moans. Later, his girlfriend had to leave for a bit, so he was quite alone over there. (I felt uncomfortable making conversation through a curtain)

Meanwhile my doctor comes in, checks me out, and asks me to rate my chest pains on a scale of 1 to 10. I told her they were about 4 so. Definately hurting, but nothing really major.

She nods and sends a nurse back in with a shot of MORPHINE, and she plugs it right into my IV. I went right on the nod, and remained pretty stoned for about two hours while I waited for my tests. (Heart is fine, by the way…they are thinking it’s a stress attack, and I have to see a cardiologist for more tests)

Now, what a situation this was. Here I am with some very mild chest pains, and they’re banging me up with the big M and here’s this poor guy writhing in pain over in the next bed and they won’t give him shit. I was wondering why the double standard, and then found out that we were being attended by two different doctors…mine was a lovely European lady who had a terrific bedside manner, and his was a VERY brusque and even rude Indian fellow who gave him a lecture on addiction when he asked for something else besides the Motrin.

I felt so bad for the poor guy. Getting up out of bed to take a piss was like agony for him. Towards the end his doctor did relent and gave him a shot of Demerol…which evidently burns when it goes in? It did for this guy, and he was hissing in pain until the nurse got his saline drip back in and let it circulate.

I kept thinking to myself, this is a terrible situation, just terrible…my IV bag ran out and I was impatient to get up and go to the bathroom, and had to wait awhile before the nurse would come back and unhook it. She left the actual IV tube in my arm, even though she said I was being discharged.

I went to the bathroom, then went back to my bed and waited, waited, waited. An hour passed. The morphine was wearing off. Finally I got frustrated and stupidly so, and tried to take the IV out myself…now, never having had one before, I had no idea they were so long and went so deep into the vein…i expected to pull out a quarter inch of of, and imagine my shock and disgust as I slowly pulled out what looked like a inch and a half of catherer.

Blood splattered all over the bed and my pants. I threw the IV in the trash, and got a paper towel for my arm. Of course, at this point the doctor returned with my discharge papers. She looked at me and said, humorously, “Couldn’t you wait another 2 minutes? I would have gotten that out for you.”

Then she sent me out the door. I’m hoping it’s the last time I see a ER for the rest of my life.

Keith - So glad you’re ok. I’m sure that was very scary.

That is a real shame they let that poor guy suffer like that. :frowning:

I hope you’re feeling better - pretty scary.

Any chance they couldn’t give the guy Morphine for a medical reason - allergy or something? I had to have a Demerol IV last summer in the ER and I don’t remember it being painful (although the reason they gave it to me is because I was in so much pain I could hardly breathe, so maybe it was just in comparison that it didn’t hurt).

There’s also the possibility that the guy had been in numerous times before for the same thing. Maybe he had a record as a repeat customer who asks for harder stuff.

Not trying to diminish your pity for him, just playing Devil’s Advocate. Sometimes there is a good reason why a doctor won’t give a patient what they ask for.

Glad you’re doing okay, man!

In my experience, the one thing I’ve had via I.V. that really hurt was potassium; it burns like a mofo going in. I’ve had Demerol via I.V. before, but I don’t recall that burning. Then again, you gotta be in some kinda serious pain before they give you Demerol, so maybe I was distracted by other pain.

And FWIW, 3 hours in the ED isn’t a big deal. :wink: I realize that yeah, it is when you’re there, but you actually got off pretty light. That being said, any time in the ED is too much time - let’s hope you don’t have to stop by again.

It was actually closer to 7 hours; I skipped over dead time, and my OP doesn’t state the total time clearly. I skipped over the drunken, screaming woman they brought in and had to restrain to a bed…completely depressing…

I’ve got no clue how I’m doing! My left arm started hurting yesterday, and then it went slightly numb…in other words, heart attack symptom. I called my doctor, and he said it wasn’t a heart attack, but a possible artery clog-up which would explain my other symptoms. I feel fairly good otherwise, and the arm pain is closer to a muscle ache than anything else. I have more tests coming up.

I absolutely despise being sick, but I guess everyone does…plus no coffee or alcohol allowed…sheeeit.

Originally posted by Skerri
There’s also the possibility that the guy had been in numerous times before for the same thing. Maybe he had a record as a repeat customer who asks for harder stuff.


Unfortunately, this happens rather frequently. The docs all learn which patients are in there for the meds.

The use of morphine has long been contraindicated for patients suffering undiagnosed acute abdominal pain.

However, as this study shows, this may soon change.

Morphine probably does not cause spasm in the sphincter of Oddi, and is probably appropriate for abdominal pain.

We have many repeat customers in our emergency room, and are careful about giving them lots of narcotics. But even addicts have pain, and if the guy was shot, the doctor seems like an unethical sadist. But there could be more to the situation than we know.

Sometimes you do not want to mask all the pain because you need to know how it changes to make a diagnosis, for example. But Motrin does not sound appropriate.


Ah, seven hours is more like it. I was in the ED a couple weeks ago 'cause I had a tonic-clonic seizure (I have them once or twice a year); I spent about seven hours in the ED from start to end. I had a drunk sleeping the sleep of the righteous to the left of me & a restrained, annoyed Xanax OD to the right.

Fun times, eh? Well, crap, man… I hope those symptoms clear the heck up - keep us apprised.

Just to add what Dr_Paprika pointed out. You generally don’t treat belly pain with pain meds – you want to see if it gets worse of if it develops into an acute abdomen, indicating surgery. I can’t tell you how many people writhing in pain I’ve had to tell just to sit still so we could watch the course. Doctors and med students don’t like it much either – most of us are not sadists and take lots of care to relieve pain. When we don’t we usually have good reason (frequent fliers, contraindications). Also, morphine I believe is very effective for chest pain and may relieve coronary spasm, especially from stress. IIRC. But I’ve been in grad school too long and it is time to get back to medical school.

My biggest ER experience was kidney stones in '99. First time I had been in one in years. I was disappointed there was no fast-paced, Clooneyesque action going on, merely bleeding winos, some old woman in a wheelchair with cathair on her nylons, and some kid asleep in a chair with what looked like a maxi-pad over one eye. Very anticlimactic