Monday, December 15, 2014

Code Blue in the Rehab Unit

I still remember my first CODE BLUE IN THE REHAB UNIT.

My attending and I were seeing the patient in room 35, who was named Jim (not his real name). Jim was a little bit out of it and his rehab was actually stopped because he was making insufficient progress. But my attending liked him so we'd still come to his room every day (technically, only the resident had to see patients who are no longer being rehabbed).

We attempted to talk to him a little bit and made sure that his nurse call button was in easy reach of his one arm that moved. He gave us a big smile before we left the room. Little did we know...

About five minutes later, we were in the next room over, seeing our next patient. Suddenly, we heard the overhead alarm that still makes my skin crawl: "Code Blue in...."

We waited.

".... Code Blue in Two Rehab, Room 35."

Just hearing that it was on my floor was horrifying enough, but then it hit me that Room 35 was Jim's room. I was terrified for a good five seconds until I realized, "Hey wait, we were JUST in there and he was fine. How could he suddenly be coding?" That doesn't usually happen to healthy (but brain damaged) young men.

We ran back to his room and his bed was surrounded by several nurses. And he was still lying in bed, smiling.

"False alarm," one of the nurses said. "Somehow he managed to hit the Code Button."

So apparently, Jim called the code himself. I was very surprised to discover that there's a button right by the bed that's so easy to access that even a bed bound patient can hit it accidentally.


  1. In response to your tweet, " there's nothing like seeing your kid meet Santa for the first time," it must be very special. Below is a link to a scene from Miracle on 34th
    Street where a Dutch girl, who doesn't speak English, meets Santa. I'm such a big
    baby, I cry every time I watch this scene. - Paul

  2. Hate to sound stupid, but what's a code blue? :P

    1. Code blue is cardiopulmonary arrest. Not good.

  3. I did that once, I was in the hospital and wired for sound, having had a heart attack. A friend had given me a couple of Patrick McManus' outdoor humor books to read while I was there. I got to laughing so hard, I pulled the EKG electrodes off my chest and my room rather quickly filled with people and equipment, with myself having to explain that, no, I really wasn't dead, but just really enjoyed the books. Fortunately, some of the staff present had also read McManus and understood.