When I was going through the Army LPN program at Ft. Sam Houston, part of our course requirements was doing clinical rotations on the various floors and sections of the hospital. Most of the job was becoming familiar with doing complete patient assessments, charting, and basic procedures; ie: dressing changes, moving the patients, etc. One of my classmates whom I was paired with one day, learned a very valuable lesson.
My partner that day (who I will refer to as PFC Mybad) was taking care of a young man on a medical/surgical ward. That means all the serious problems he had were treated and he was now recovering. The morning routine was pretty simple: go in, greet the patient, do a physical assessment, change the linens if necessary, and ask if there’s anything they need prior to morning medication rounds. Unfortunately, Mybad forgot one key element at the beginning of this encounter. She failed to read the man’s chart to get a history of his current condition.
The physical assessment is essentially a rundown of check on the body’s major systems; musculoskeletal, cardiac, pulmonary, integumentary, etc. She did all of these very cheerfully and professionally, the whole time chatting up the man and his wife who was at the bedside. Then things went wrong. When checking muscle strength, a routine test is to hold your hands out, palms up, and ask the patient to press down on your hands with his as hard as he can. When she asked him to do this, he just kind of stared at her, bewildered.
That’s when the wife softly said, ”He’s a quadriplegic, dear.”
PFC Mybad turned beet red while the patient, his wife, and I went into near hysterics laughing.