A nurse runs into the call room at 4AM: "Doctor, doctor, look at this EKG." I open my eyes and slowly adjust to the light-- it was the first time I'd had a chance to get any asleep all night. I can barely read an EKG when I'm awake, so I certainly can't do much with it at 4AM.
"Which patient is this? What's going on?"
The EKG looked a little abnormal, but I couldn't tell if it was something to be alarmed about or not. "We should call [the second-year resident], he's upstairs," I said.
"No, no," the nurse said. "Not a patient. It's [another nurse]. He has chest pains for thirty minutes. We hook him up to EKG, this is what we get."
I told them to get him to the emergency room! Why are the nurses hooking each other up to the EKG at 4 in the morning??
..........My second-year resident didn't let me sleep last night. This whole overnight thing depends so much on the resident in charge. This guy must be on drugs or something, because he just did not get tired. At 2AM, he pulls me out of bed to check the labs on a patient, said he felt like it would be a "teaching opportunity," and that he wanted to show me something about something I can't even remember. I finally get back into bed by 3 and at 3:30 he grabs me "to go over the patients for 7AM rounds, just so we're on the same page." At 3:30 in the morning?? Then the nurse with the EKG at 4, and a patient wandering out of bed and pulling out his tubes at 4:30, that the nurse felt compelled to wake me up to tell me. And I couldn't get to sleep after that, wrote my morning notes, then stumbled through rounds before finally getting to leave a couple of minutes ago.
I am SO tired. I will never get used to these overnights. Some people seem equipped to deal with the lack of sleep, but I just can't. Who can read an EKG half-asleep at 4 in the morning? Why do we have to prepare for rounds at 3AM? Why can't the labs be read in the morning when there's nothing we can do in the middle of the night anyway? It's not my job to check on then patients every hour, that's not what overnight call is supposed to be about. It's for emergencies and situations where you really do need a doctor. I'm supposed to get to sleep, at least a little bit. Not that anyone can sleep on the plastic mattress in the tiny room, but in theory--
I can't wait for outpatient month.