Easy going junior resident, Dr. Moore, looked at the board and tensed up immediately. By all indications it was going to be a disaster of a day.
In the middle of the nurses’ station was “The Board”, the central form of communication of vital patient data. Listed were the patient’s name, doc, gestational age, diagnosis and other pertinent information. On this day the board showed all worst-case-scenario patients: a bleeding placenta previa; severe pregnancy induced hypertension; a set of twins in labor; a set of triplets contracting regularly; another patient with a breech baby dilated to 6 and being prepped for the operating room. Additionally, four other patients were dilated between 7-9 centimeters. To top it off, a pregnant diabetic had just arrived and looked like she would need an admission to the ICU for diabetic ketoacidosis. The situation was beyond belief.
Each morning the junior resident arrived around 5A.M. to prepare a report for the oncoming senior resident and obstetric attending physician. As Dr. Moore studied the board, he began to look pale.
In actuality, the situation seemed beyond belief because, little did Dr. Moore know, he’d been set up for a practical joke by the L&D staff. The shift that night had gone from really busy, to incredibly slow. Well, slow is an understatement, we actually had no patients left. It was almost unheard of, but every room in Labor and Delivery was empty. So, as bored nurses are known to do, we decided that we needed to spice up the night…thus a brilliant plan was formed.
Gathering around the board, full of mischief, we came up with the obstetric version of the Perfect Storm. Then, we raced around closing doors, putting up name tags and preparing equipment for our performance that we had choreographed precisely.
As soon as Dr. Moore approached the unit, the chaos began. Nurses began to scurry about pushing IV poles and delivery carts. We went in and out of the empty rooms slamming doors and turning on call lights.
“Would someone let NICU know that we are going to deliver in room 4 soon,” someone shouted towards the nurses’ station, “Tell ‘em we have thick meconium!”
Dr. Moore was taking note of all of the activity as he moved toward the board.
The secretary was repeatedly calling herself, making the phones ring incessantly and also ignoring the call lights.
“The night has been crazy,” explained the seemingly frazzled charge nurse after Dr. Moore had been at the board for a few minutes, “We’ve been short staffed to boot.”
“Excuse me,” I interrupted, doing my best to act frazzled, “Dr. Moore, you have to see this!”
I held in my hand a urine collection cup which I had filled with pale gold apple juice.
“The glucose on this is off the chart,” I said as I held up a urine testing dipstick.
“The urine actually smells sweet!” I declared, taking a big whiff.
Quickly, I added “Let me see how it tastes,” and I took a swig.
Dr. Moore’s knees buckled slightly as he looked at me in horror.
At that moment, the nurses reconverged into the nurses’ station and burst out in laughter.
“What? What are you guys up to?” he asked, with a mix of realization and relief. A grin broke on his face as he grasped the fact that he’d been duped.
With that, the charge nurse picked up the dryboard eraser and wiped the board clean.
We’d pulled off a practical joke that would be talked about for years to come.