tangled-linesSAN JOSE, CA – The intensive care unit (ICU) at Holy Cross Hospital is ecstatic to receive an upcoming patient from the operating room who should have multiple lines and monitors to untangle.

Very shortly the team will be receiving a multiple level spinal fusion patient who has 2 peripheral IVs, a central line, multiple drips without any labels, an arterial line, a Foley, JP drains, some leftover SSEP wires, and normal monitors.

Given that the patient was prone intraoperatively and will be rotated 180 degrees should ensure maximal line tangling.  As an added bonus, it is reported that the ICU bed that the patient is arriving on has a broken steer mechanism and no IV pole.

If receiving this patient wasn’t exciting enough for the ICU nurses and respiratory therapists, that it may be happening right at change of shift is making the anticipation unbearable.

ICU nurse, Samantha Watkins, describes how her body has “pure adrenaline, like 70mcg/min” just thinking about untangling the lines.  “It’s like a game for me.  I dream about untangling knots, taking a half-ass report from the anesthesiologist, and dealing with immediate hypotension and tachycardia as they walk away.”

One of the off-going nurses chimed in, “Looks like there are no surgical orders in the computer.  You will just have to guess what to do, or page the residents only 13 times.”

If it is CNA Janice’s lucky day, the Foley catheter bag will need to emptied almost immediately.  “The nurses always give me that job and I love it!  This is going to be great.  I’m sure the gown and sheets will need to be changed, or at least I HOPE they do!”

“Can you imagine if the IV bag is empty!” nurse Watkins said as if she was welcoming the Beatles to America.  “I’ll head to the Pyxis immediately.  It will take about 5 minutes just to get one IV bag but it will be so worth it!”  There was also hope that the medical chart was left behind in the OR.

The ICU team is so excited to take this patient that they hope report won’t be called, so that they can “be surprised” when the patient just shows up.  “I equate it to not knowing the sex of your baby in-utero.  I love the surprise of guessing when the patient will show up and what we will need,” says Watkins.



  • Show Comments

  • jyr78643

    And yet, after the ICU supposedly untangles all those lines, when the patient returns emergently to the OR, those buggers have magically rectangles themselves!

  • Travis

    Is it bad I put “professional IV line untangler” as a skill on my resume?

  • Lisa

    I spent 30 years as an ICU nurse..To me it seemed routine to have to untangle the lines of an incoming patient from OR.With that said there were times when we had to get patients ready for transport to OR so quickly that we all but used a chain saw to cut the lines away..Meaning that we had to throw the IV bags which were connected to the lines in the bed with the patient.. Whatever it took to have more time to push the bed at a full run to the OR…If we were able to get the pt to the OR with a heartbeat and blood pressure, it was up to the OR team and anesthesiologists to decipher what line went where..

  • mighty_aphrodite

    Lol, we’ve all been there.

  • Margaret

    Eh, I’ve gotten ICU patients to take to the OR with lines that are a hot mess. It is was it is.

  • Margaret

    I had just come off a shift after staying 1 hour late with a horrible case, no help to transport and an ICU nurse who was a complete tool. I WAS a little touchy.

  • lls9

    :) Because ICU nurses never have to transport patients to CT or MRI or interventional radiology or even the OR, so they can’t possibly understand…

  • mighty_aphrodite

    You’re taking this way too seriously.

  • Hope Daack Adams

    sometimes the lines aren’t all tangled, so it can be done.

  • Margaret

    LMAO!! Let those ICU nurses come to the OR, take care of the patient and then have to transport while bagging, pushing the bed and the iv pole and see how their lines look!

  • Stanley Thomas Fowler

    that was anesthesias fault all the way!

  • TheNurse

    hahahaha! THose were the good ole days

  • Denise

    That picture gave my coworkers and I (all ICU nurses) such anxiety! Love it!

  • Jinger Birkholz

    To spice it up all the pumps could be beeping and running out of battery at the same.exact.time! wooohooo!

  • Gomerblog

    Ramblin Rose would you like some pad locks on these tubes?

  • Ramblin Rose

    Come on make it more exciting…

  • Sara Lima

    and your unrestrained intubated patient is waking up and fighting you!

  • Nurse Truths

    that’s the worst I think anesthesiologists do that shit on purpose just to piss off the nurses

  • Jinger Birkholz

    Just think of the excitement when the patient arrives and each access point has at least 5 lines going into it. Combine this with at least 4 iv poles and the nurses are in heaven!

  • Tim Brown

    2001 Chevy intake manifold

  • Gomerblog

    More stopcocks would help this situation

  • Paul Pflumm

    Absolutely spot on! Could also be used interchangeably with the ER

  • Cameron Hansen

    Propofol bolus syringe spotted – but 3 mL is for pansies.

  • Diana Lenore Miller

    what a damn mess.

  • Evan Fusco

    What could go wrong?

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