What does a nurse do in an ER situation?
March 30, 2006 7:37 PM   Subscribe

Nurse Filter: Can someone explain some basic ER stuff to an actor about to audition for a nurse part? I want my physical actions to be realistic.

The part that I am auditioning for is the role of a nurse in an ER. The situation is a chest gun shot wound. The lines that I say cover amount of blood lost and giving out the pressure. I also say that he is going into shock. My question is what is the specific function of this type of nurse in this situation? Is it her role to simply watch the pressure? Where would she look for that info, on his arm - on a machine? Where would it be located in reference to the patient? Does she change the blood? Is she assisting in the chest tube insertion? If so, what does she do? Where would a nurse like this stand relative to the patient being worked on? When the patient flatlines - what does she do? Lots of questions. I have many years of watching ER under my belt, but I would like to be more specific in my portrayal. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
posted by typewriter to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
I'm only an EMT, but generally I see the nurses just getting the heck out of the way and letting the attending physicians do the work. heh.

Have you considered observing at a local trauma center? Ask the folks in charge, you might get to observe some traumas. I think that wouldbe an excellent way to get the information that you're looking for. :)
posted by drstein at 8:45 PM on March 30, 2006

Of course, it could also be an excellent way to toss your cookies. Real gunshot wounds are pretty messy.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:50 PM on March 30, 2006

Nurses might hang bags of blood or saline; you'd be looking at a monitor above the patient at the head of the bed. If the patient flatlines, the nurse might do chest compressions, depending on who's around.
posted by gramcracker at 8:57 PM on March 30, 2006

All trauma codes are run slightly differently based on institutional guidelines, personel, etc. However this is a stellar description of how traumas typically run at a teaching hospital.
posted by drpynchon at 9:01 PM on March 30, 2006

It might also be useful to bear in mind that what happens on ER-themed TV shows often bears little resemblance to what happens in actual ERs. It'd say watching years of ER the show is probably better training for portraying a character like one of those on the show than actually watching an actual ER.
posted by ChasFile at 9:30 PM on March 30, 2006

Thanks for the comments! All were helpful. Definitely a balance of what is 'real' and what works in front of a camera are always considerations for me. For instance, drpynchon's link with the trauma room diagram was extremely helpful for me to imagine where the imaginary doctors I am speaking to are placed. But knowing the room that I am auditioning in, I reversed all the positions for better camera angles. And drstein, I used to volunteer in an ED as a teenager. All I did was arrange the magazines. Thanks again!
posted by typewriter at 10:30 PM on March 30, 2006

They it works in my ED is theoretically every Doctor and Nurse has specific rolls on the trauma team that they are supposed to stick to to make it all run smoothly. In reality however as penetrating chest wounds are fairly uncommon where I live (maybe 1 or 2 a week). Usually every man and his dog turns up, and it's often a battle just to get to the patient!

Thre are 3 nurses on the trauma team that have 3 seperate roles:

1 to maintain assist in airway management (oxygen supply, suction and assistance with intubation).

1 circulation nurse to do with cardiac monitoring/defibrillation (if required) assist with insertion of drains etc.

1 nurse to write everything down and maintatin a record of what medications and fluids are given.

Happy to correspond in more detail if you have further questions.
posted by mule at 4:23 PM on March 31, 2006

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