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America: Land of the Free, Home of the… Jingoistic, Bitchy Triage Nurses

I brought a patient into the ED early this morning with a medical issue. It was a serious, potentially life-altering medical issue, but the exact condition isn't important. Somehow, during the course of hand-off report to the triage nurse, I mentioned that the patient was fasting during Ramadan. The triage nurse rolled her eyes in disgust.

"Whatever," she spat, "I'm so sick and tired of dealing with these fucking people and their religion."

Yeah, whatever, bitch. I'm kind of sick and tired of dealing with Yankee triage nurses with bad attitudes, but you won't catch me showing it in public. Our mamas taught us to be more polite to people down here in the backward South.

I'm quite sure that, if she were to take ill in a middle-Eastern country, she'd be squealing in indignation if the nurses there treated her like an animal because she was Christian. She'd probably use it as moral justification for condemning Muslims as barbarians.

Some people I just wish would get the hell off my team, you know?

Comments - Add Yours

  • Ka9vsz

    What would she say if the patient were fasting because a doctor said to do so?  And does the fact of fasting get passed on to other health care providers who might look at the pt’s labs and draw erroneous conclusions due to not knowing about the fast?

    • Anonymous

      All good questions. All I can do is inform them. It’s up to her what to do with the information.

      Ambulance Driver


  • Renee Roberts

    Its people like her that continue the bigoted attitudes regarding much more than religion in our society. Obviously, she does not understand the importance of someone’s religion in their lives. And of tolerance. And freedoms. It is something all of us need to remember to take into consideration with our patients. But yeah, none of us need that kind of person on the team…

  • Louise Wyness

    Silly Cow!!! Makes me SO ashamed!! What happened to her nurses pledge!! Go find another job lady!! You give the rest of us a bad name!!

  • Robert J. Wilson

    I couldn’t agree with you more!!  There is absolutely no reason for her to have had that kind of absurdly unprofessional response, regardless of the person’s religion and practices.  The information you provided was relevant to the patient’s care and personal health wishes.  So…WTF? 

    This is kind of a tangent, and I apologize in advance, but it’s something that’s been bugging me for a year: When my husband was in the hospital, he was asked during admit what his religion was, and responded that he was Catholic.  His stay became prolonged and we were being bothered sometimes 2 and 3 times per day by nice old Catholic people (in a non-Catholic hospital) coming into the room to offer him communion.  At first we were super polite, but after specifically telling the nurses to stop allowing them into the room, we started getting aggravated.  My issue is that why on Earth are non-medical personnel granted such access to a patient’s room in the first place, ESPECIALLY after being asked to stop coming?  Though I am an atheist, I respect my husband’s freedom to believe however he likes, and I certainly don’t mind that hospitals have chapels and even chaplains.  I just think that for the sake of patient privacy, they should only be allowed patient access if and when the patient specifically requests it.Because nothing says “Hallelujah” like a 90 year old nun walking in on us when I’m trying to get Joe off the potty-chair…  (LOL)

    • Joe Paczkowski

      Um, how were the patient’s visitors being a problem to nursing staff. It’s a hospital, not solitary confinement. Similarly, how do you know that the patient didn’t request nor welcome the visitors?

      • Anonymous

        Joe, from reading Robert’s comment, the visitors were being intrusive to the patient, his husband, who did not request them, and apparently the nurses didn’t fix the problem when informed of it.

        Ambulance Driver


        • Robert J. Wilson


      • Robert J. Wilson

        The intruders were not the patient’s visitors.  They were uninvited third parties being granted access to patient rooms without (and in our case against) the consent of the patient.  We informed the nurses because they are the front-line hospital staff members with whom we (or, more generally, the patient) have the most contact.  

        I hope that clarifies the issue for you, Joe.

        • Joe Paczkowski

          Ah, that explains a lot. If I’m ever an inpatient and someone from my church brings me communion on Sunday, I’m going to be rather peeved if the nurses say, “No” without a damn good reason (same goes for any visitor).

          Random people just showing up? Constantly after being asked not to? I’m going to be rather peeved and probably provide a good show (should be paid-per-view) when I start yelling at people who have no business in my room.

  • Becktg

    What does the Koran have to say about intravenous glucose?

    • BR_Medic

      I was wondering that myself. What about saline bolus’ for dehydration too?

      • Anonymous

        A quick consult with Dr. Google revealed that Muslims are exempt from the fasting requirements of Ramadan in cases of illness. If it’s medically necessary, they get get it, oral, intravenous or otherwise.

        Some scholars differ on whether those dates need to be made up at another time, however.

        • Adam Iskender

          Exceptions are made for those traveling or ill – and depending on what branch uou follow, fast days may be made up at a later date.

          Also, depending on how you define things, things like an IV may be exempt since the prohibition is against taking things by mouth… leaving a nice loophole.

    • Anonymous

      That’s a very good question, and… I have no idea. There’s an idea for a blog post, though.

      Ambulance Driver


  • Vicki

    I agree that the nurse’s attitude was horrible, however, as a Yankee (born and raised, and living in the mid-west) I take exception to lumping us all as uncaring.  As for Ramadan, yes, they are not supposed to eat, or drink, anything until sundown.  There are, of course, exceptions such as medical emergencies.  The patient will be happy to tell you what they can, and can’t, have.  I too feel very frustrated with “attitudes” in the ED.  I worked EMS for 5 years before becoming a nurse.  I know the type all too well, and for the record, they’re awful to their own staff as well.  Kudos, for being respectful of your patient.

    • Anonymous

      Oh, make no mistake, I don’t have a problem with Yankees. I have a problem with Yankees with attitudes. ;)
      And she’s got one, in spades.

      Ambulance Driver


  • Nikki

    I HAVE taken ill in a Middle Eastern country, requiring hospitalization and massive amounts of fluids, and at first it was generally assumed that I was fasting, as it was the tail end of Ramadan. When I explained that I was not, and I that am Catholic, I was greeted with smiles and the short, polite questions of three curious Jordanian nurses about what it’s like to be Christian.

    I’m not saying that’s necessarily the norm throughout the region, but being that that’s the extent of my personal experience with the matter, I find myself more disgusted with your triage nurse’s attitude than perhaps I would normally be otherwise…

  • Guest

    Sad, I can attest that we never treated civilians like that when I was in Iraq as a medic.  That kind of response was reserved for the Insurgents.

    • Anonymous

      She excused her attitude by stating that her son was fighting in Afghanistan.
      I doubt he treated the natives like that, either.

      Ambulance Driver


      • Mini Medic

        Tell Yankee bitch that this Midwestern Bitch has a husband deployed in Afghanistan, and I would NEVER dream of treating a patient like that, no matter what their religion. As long as they treat me with respect, I treat them the same

        (I confess I did get snippy with an elderly Jewish gentleman once, but when the words, “I’m married,” leave my mouth, that is their cue to stop hitting on me. Unlike some military wives, I take my wedding vows VERY seriously.)

        I’ve heard of Jews being treated quite well in a Muslim-dominated country; rumor has it that some Muslims frown more upon someone without a religion than someone with one completely different from theirs…

  • Anonymous

    I’m afraid I would have had to call her on that one…

  • James Kelly

    I will note that in Iraq there was a distinct correlation between Ramadan and rocket attacks…but if I had to fast all day in the middle of a desert, I’d be pretty pissed off too.

    As for your snurse…it’s unprofessional, rude, and condescending behavior like that that makes the rest of us Yankees look bad.

  • Sardog10

    I certainly can’t claim to be an angel when it comes to my attitudes about working in the ED but the comments by this nurse just sicken me. She is an embarrassment to nursing in general and needs to seriously reconsider why she’s there in the first place. Nursing, especially ED nursing, is hard enough and we don’t need to add attitudes like that to the mix.

  • Ndionne

    AD, I would like to say that she does not speak for the rest of us Yankees, especially those living in the south. That nurse obviously needs to explore other career options. Especially ones out of healthcare.

  • Ix

    On the other side of things….

    Young lady came in to our ED the other day, about 8 months along in her first pregnancy, complaining of nausea, fever, and burning on urination.  She said she had been seen at an ED in another town and diagnosed with a UTI, then prescribed macrodantin.  She never filled the prescription because the tablet is made with pork gelatin, and she is a Muslim.  Also because of her faith, she has not seen an obstetrician, instead retaining the services of a midwife for her first birth.

    Unsurprisingly, she was diagnosed with a UTI.

    We explained that bladder infections are a treatable cause of miscarriage, and that the primary cause of death of women in undeveloped countries (that is, women who don’t have ready access to physicians) is childbirth.  Hopefully, she followed our recommendations, took the pills, and followed up with a gynecologist for an ultrasound to make sure she didn’t have a presentation inconsistent with delivery.

    The interface between religion and medicine can be frustrating, whether it’s refusing pork-based medicines (Muslims), refusing blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses), handling snakes (some Pentacostals), refusal to vaccinate (Amish), not wearing condoms (Catholics)….the list goes on and on.

    But AD is right.  The professional medical provider should NEVER let the patient see this frustration.   At worst, venting to a close colleague is acceptable.  But bitching to some random paramedic who wandered in off the street?  Not cool. 

  • Sandro Rettinger

    That’s not jingoistic, that’s just flat bigoted.

  • FrankC

    On the “pork gelatin” thing.  Once the animal product becomes purified gelatin it’s no different to gelatin made from cows or sheep.  There’s no difference in the final product, only the source, and you’d need some pretty fancy analysis to tell the difference.

  • Rogue Medic

    Isn’t her son in Afghanistan because of the same intolerant attitude to other religions by some fanatics, just taken to 11?

    She hates others so much, she imitates them.

    Yes, a lot of the major religions have some language that states Kill the unbelievers.

    Very few religious people actually believe that this is acceptable. Most of the killing that is done that is nominally justified by religion is probably based on something that sounds much less noble – Northern Ireland and throughout the Middle East. this is our excuse to be gangsters and feel self-righteous. If only Al Capone had thought of this.

    If the patient were overweight, the nurse might have complained about the patient eating too much, rather than too little, even if the nurse outweighed the patient. She probably just likes to complain, regardless of the reason.