Storytime: My Patient Ran Away!

Hello all! This post is different than any other I have done before. I wanted to share a crazy-ish storytime from when I was finishing up nursing school. Brace yourselves and get ready for a laugh…



Disclaimer: In order to avoid HIPAA violation, I have not disclosed any identifying information about the patient. All information provided remains general.


At the time I was working in my local hospital as Unit Secretary/Monitor Tech/Patient Observer. For this story, I was working as a Patient Observer in one of the ER pods for the first four hours of my shift. After completing these four hours, I would finish the other eight hours as a Unit Secretary on a surgery unit. Anyway, this particular day was just a usual day as a Float Pool employee. I had been up since 0945 and did not have a nap, so I was a pretty tired. I was assigned to the behavioral health pod. It was empty… Except for about six CNAs who were acting as Patient Observers.

That was literally my expression. A few minutes later one of the ER nurses came by and gave us rooms that needed sitters from the different pods. I decided to go to a pod that I don’t get placed in often. This allowed me to revisit a pod I spent some time in as an extern and observe the night shift staff since they would be my future coworkers. I ended up sitting for a patient with an overdose who had received activated charcoal. Activated charcoal helps bind whatever the patient overdosed on and get rid of it. This helps protect the liver. So this patient was experiencing a great deal of vomiting and diarrhea and was clearly agitated.

Okay, I am just going to jump to the point. The patient was refusing involuntary admission to the Psych hospital on campus. After a mini temper tantrum with the psychiatrist, the patient remained a little calm… And then the social worker came in.

Usually patients become very agitated when the social worker comes in to reinforce their plan for admission. So, this is what happened, the patient became immediately agitated and began demanding to speak with the physician. The nurse explained the physician would be waiting on the patient in the other pod before they would be admitted to the Pysch hospital. After all this, I began getting that tingly feeling. If you are a nursing student or nurse you know what I am talking about. I went into high alert, because I knew something was about to happen, I just did not know what.

All of a sudden the patient jumped out of bed and ran out of the unit. Mind you, the patient had been using the patient restroom a lot, but they went right past it and out into the hallway. I’m thinking “Oh, Lord”. I ask the patient “Hey. Where are you going?”. The patient replies “I just got to get out of here”, or something like that…I replied “Let’s go back to your room”. At this point, the patient is looking for an exit. In what seemed like a split second, the patient swipped their hand across the door to the right and ran out to the ambulance bay. Right past the security guard.

I ran behind the patient to the bay and looked at the security guard who just stared back. Mind you this baffled me for a millisecond because the patient was clearly dressed in paper scrubs. I yelled at the security guard “They are on white papers!”. Then I ran back into the pod and yelled for help since I can’t go running after a patient (job description, safety rules, blah, blah). One of the Techs came running and the nurse came to see what was going on. Luckily, the security guard called for back-up because this security guard apparently refuses to run after patients.

Luckily, they bought the patient back about ten minutes later in a wheelchair and transferred them to the Psych hopsital. All in all it worked out and I hope that patient got the help they needed. It was pretty weird becasue afterwards all the staff were like “Good job!” I don’t like words of affirmation so that was very akward.

All in all it was just a typical day in the ER. This is a good reminder for us to appreciate out Patient Observers/Sitters. They play a very important role and help prevent patients from harming themselves. When I become a nurse, I refuse to act like my Patient Obervers are invisible and they don’t matter. They are important to the team.

Thanks for reading!

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