Clinic / Medicine

Universal safety precautions… NOT!

I got to see an IV inserted today!

You see, it happened like this:

We were working at the clinic again today. Yup, so there we were, industriously measuring blood pressure, doing urine dipstick tests and the occasional blood glucose test, when this lady walks in. She looks fine. Healthy.

Anyway, we started off with our usual little procedure, until the nursing assistant tells us: “She’s diabetic. Measure her blood sugar.”

Which we did.

The result: a whopping 28.1!

(Normal range: approximately 4-6)

Apparently, anything above 20 is usually reason for a referral to hospital. We didn’t refer the lady, though. The nursing sister told me that she doesn’t like to refer if she is actually capable of handling the case herself.

Well of course, I totally wanted to see the drip inserted into this lady’s arm! So I tagged along.

And things happened – along Africa Time lines…

I stood there waiting.

Meanwhile, the nurses were engaged in buying earings. The patient who they were currently measuring out meds for was selling these earings. Talk about entrepreneurship!

Eventually, the sister remembered about the IV. She grabbed some gloves and I almost fell over from the shock. I was like, what? They are actually going to apply the universal safety precautions by physically wearing gloves! Amazing!

Then the sister tied the glove around the patient’s upper arm. I guess they don’t have tourniquets.

Apart from the fact that the lid of the biohazards bin was used as a makeshift catcher-upper of the blood which ran freely down the patients arm while the sister was working (gloveless) on the patient, the rest of the procedure proceeded fairly uneventfully.


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