Reader Letter from an ICU Nurse on the Importance, and Responsibility, of Nurses
I recently received this letter from an ICU nurse who had read Immortal Bird and has strong feelings about the critical role nurses played in Damon’s case and more generally about the role and responsibility of nurses at the bedside. Do you agree with her position?
“Dear Mr. Weber,
I have just finished your book. I am so sorry about what happened to your beautiful son.
As an ICU nurse, I was horrified by your account of the treatment Damon received (or didn’t receive). I wanted to share my perspective in hopes you may pass it along when people ask your advice about how to survive the ICU. I hope I am not overstepping, but I wish all my patients understood. It is the nurse who is the gatekeeper, coordinator, maker-of-things-to-happen. When a doctor is being an ass, or not responding to pages, I track them down or drag someone else to the bedside. I let my charge nurse, and then my nurse manager know when a doctor is not doing what they need to do. They follow up with force.
I was truly in disbelief reading the final pages of your book, wondering “where is the nurse??” the whole way through. Patients rarely grasp that it is the bedside nurse who is supposed to be their advocate and who, being there 12 hours at a stretch, is the only person who truly has the whole picture. More than the doctors, I blamed the nurses while reading. Patients can also ask how much ICU experience the nurse has. Less than two years and I would ask for a change in assignments. If the nurse is not fighting tooth and nail to get what the patient needs, ask for the charge nurse and demand a new nurse be assigned.
I love all of my patients, and I have two small children of my own. Your book touched me from both angles. It will change my practice for the better in many ways, and I am grateful for that.
I hope the lawsuit goes your way. My best to your brave wife and to Sam and Miranda.