Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Air Bubbles are NOT Cute

Do you know what takes most of my time when I’m duty at the hospital? It’s regulating and checking the IV flow rate. Yup I’m so obsessed with getting the number of drops perfectly that if I have nothing to do I check the drop rate over and over again. It’s supposed to be checked by the hour but I guess I over do it and check it every 5 minutes or so. What can I say? I’m afraid that the patient might get under-infused or worst over-infused and this could lead to hypervolemic shock or heart failure if the patient has a serious heart problem. Plus I don’t want to be get an extension (it’s equivalent for detention for student nurses).

But regulating IV flow rate is not that a big deal. The big problem would be air bubbles! Yup you heard me. Air bubbles may seem harmless but once 5mL of air bubbles is injected into your blood stream this could lead to pulmonary embolism. Another worst possible situation is when the air bubbles flows to your brain or heart and impedes blood flow. The medical term for air bubbles getting into the body ladies and gentlemen is air embolism.

I also had an experience once when I was in the hospital (this time as a patient), a nurse from a rival school (I’m not telling which school hehehe) came in to inject cefuroxime (an antibiotic for my tonsillitis) through my IV line and when he left I noticed air bubbles! Lots of air bubbles! I stopped the IV infusing and pressed the button calling for any nurse. When the nurse came I told her about the air bubbles and she then removed the air bubbles using a syringe at the connector for “piggybacking” other IV fluids. And then a few hours later I realized that the nurse that almost got me killed with air bubbles was the brother of my brother’s girlfriend. No wonder he’s trying to kill me, I’ll kill myself too if that’s the reason (Lol).

As a student nurse I really hate air bubbles. Sure I can try tapping them so that they could go back to the drip chamber or roll the IV tube with my pen so that the bubbles would disappear into the drip chamber but most of the time it’s easier said than done. And the only way to get rid of them is by aspirating them into a syringe… and this is quite a hassle because as mandated by the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 (R.A. 9173) IV lines are off-limits to students! So I have to run to my clinical instructor and disturb her with her work (hehehe).

So fellow student nurses: if you see air bubbles don’t think it’s cute… it could kill your patient so watch out!
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