DNW – Did Not WaitJuly 10, 2011
years ago the emergency department was staffed by only 1 RN as it was a small rural hospital.If we needed the DR we had to wake him up.Sometimes we had a student nurse on with us if there was a “spare”.Anyway there I was with this young student when we could hear someone in the waiting room calling out for help.How they had gotten in we weren’t sure but decided when he left later that the wardsman on that night had left the back door open.
The patient was a small Irishman of slim build and I asked him his name. He told us and the student went off to get his casualty card out of the filing system. I asked him what was wrong with him and he said “I need to see a doctor. Help me.” I was sitting beside him on the bench and the funny thing is I never touched him to calm him down as usually I’m a very touchy feely person.
Student came back and said there was no record of his in the filing system. I told her to look in the pile waiting to be filed but no success even though the gentleman was now insisting that he had been to casualty a night or 2 ago. He refused to have any obs taken and started saying that if we wouldn’t help him he may as well go home and die. I told him to wait there and we would ring the doctor to come over as he was quite distressed and we were feeling a bit unnerved by his behavior. Off we both go to the office and ring the doctor and go out to tell him the Dr will be along soon.
The gentleman was gone and the doors were still locked after we went through the area looking for him. Even the back door. By this time we were feeling quite a bit freaked out by it all and started commenting on how the waiting area was cold despite it being summer. Even the doc commented on the room temp when he arrived. Anyway we entered his name in the book where we recorded patients being seen in the dept. and checked back and saw that he had been there 2 nights previously and was recorded that night as a “DNW” – “Did Not Wait.”
I thought no more about it till a few nights later when I was at home in bed asleep when the other RN who did my relief nights in Casualty rang me at home hysterical. She wanted to know what the man looked like and what he was wearing when we saw him. Then she hung up and rang back later still upset to say that she and the Dr who were on that night had seen the man in question 2 nights previously and had the same experience with him. He had left without being assessed fully and had gone off saying he may as well go home and die. An ambulance had turned up with him a few hours later and he was dead on arrival. After speaking with me the first time they had gone down to the morgue to make sure he was still there. The poor student nurse who was with me that night was working again and they made her go with them to make sure it was the same guy. Student Nurse refused to work in casualty at night again. And I made sure that I had all lights on. I used to run through that old department if I had to go through there when the new hospital was being built.
Since then I’ve believed.