It is the second night you are doing a late shift at the Emergency Department. So that means you are working from 9pm to 7am. For the first patient of the night, you see an adopted teenage girl come in with remitting abdominal pain. And then you see an older woman with nausea and vomiting who is found to have a bowel obstructions (this means that for some reason your bowels are not moving as they normally do and it could be from something actually blocking your bowels from moving). To be honest, the rest of the night sort of blurs all together until a college student comes in with a laceration (fancy word for a deep cut) on his forehead. My attending physician asks me if I have every closed a laceration up. Excited for a turn of events, I smile and say yes.
It is 5am so it means I have two more hours until freedom. I think, I have more than enough time to be able to close his laceration. It takes me about 30 minutes gathering all my materials and as I start to put on my sterile gloves, I realize the nurse forgot to give me a sterile drape to cover the rest of his face as I work. Using my non-sterile elbow I hit the nurse button in the patient’s room and the nurse takes about 10 minutes to come in. She helps me with the supplies, gives me a questioning look, and walks away. As I start to imagine closing the laceration up, I realize there are a couple of different techniques that I could potentially use to close. The patient is getting a little anxious at this point since it is already 6am and I’m starting to sweat because i’m getting nervous that I will mess it up. I use my best judgment and decide on how I want to close. I put in the first stitch and the patient cringes, probably because the anesthetic (makes things numb) has probably started to wear off or I didn’t put in enough. I numb him up a little more and continue to suture. I have about two sutures in and probably need about six total sutures when the patient’s four super obnoxious friends decide to come in. I ask them politely to step out into the waiting room but they are slightly drunk and do not get that i’m serious. I put down my suture driver and demand they leave. It is 6:45 as I start to put my last suture in and look down to see that it doesn’t look too bad.
I find my attending who thankfully does not realize that it took me 2 hours to close a laceration that would have most likely taken him 5 minutes to do. He tells me I can get ready to go home. I look down at my watch and realize it is almost 8am. Just another night in the ER.