I'm an author, can I ask stupid questions?

  1. So, I'm not actually a nurse. In fact, I rarely set foot in a hospital. But for some reason my characters keep winding up in them. I've been trying to Google my way through but I'm finding it hard to figure certain things out. Probably because I'm completely clueless about the whole thing.

    Would it be really annoying (or against the TOS) to ask people painfully stupid questions on here or on the main allnurses forum? I don't want to annoy anyone, but I do want my stories to be realistic. My questions are mostly about hospital policy, layout, basic medical procedures, etc. I'm not writing technical medical thrillers and don't need a lot of complex in-depth information. It's stuff that I think most people who work in a hospital would already know. (Hence "stupid questions".)

    If anyone knows any good alternate resources (and wants to get rid of me) I'd love to hear about them. Aside from nursing school. I can't even keep my cactus alive.
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  2. Visit DontBeAngry profile page

    About DontBeAngry

    Joined: Apr '18; Posts: 8; Likes: 5
    from CA

    15 Comments

  3. by   nursej22
    I am not a moderator, but I think as long as you don't ask for medical advice, there shouldn't be a problem.

    Be forewarned, though, nurses can have a sick, warped, sarcastic sense of humor.
  4. by   DontBeAngry
    Quote from nursej22
    I am not a moderator, but I think as long as you don't ask for medical advice, there shouldn't be a problem.

    Be forewarned, though, nurses can have a sick, warped, sarcastic sense of humor.
    Thank you, nursej22!

    If that's the case, I have truly found my people.
  5. by   nursej22
    So I'm curious, what are the questions?
  6. by   DontBeAngry
    Quote from nursej22
    So I'm curious, what are the questions?
    I have so many. I realize a lot of them will seem really stupid, but bear with me.

    Can anyone just walk through the doors from the emergency waiting room to the emergency department where the doctors/nurses are treating patients? Would anyone try to stop them? Would anyone be allowed to stay (friends, relatives) if they asked to? How would the staff know they were actually a friend/relative? Would they just get escorted back out to the waiting room? If someone refused to leave, would they call security? (Do most hospitals even have security?)

    I have a character who is trying to see what's happening to another character who has just arrived by ambulance. They don't really know this other person and have basically just walked in off the street but will pretend to be a friend or relative if it helps. The second character is unconscious.

    This is only a small sample of my ignorance. Please correct my terminology where it deviates from reality. And thanks in advance for any help.
  7. by   No Stars In My Eyes
    The hospital here has security; you have to talk with a guard at the desk by the doors to the ER proper, have your ID photo taken at that desk saying who you are and who you are visiting and it is affixed to a pass which you hang around your neck. The security desk informs the staffer assigned the person you are wanting to see or be with. Then you sit in the waiting room. You have to be called by name, then checked and buzzed through. There are two people working the security desk...one behind the desk and one by the door.
    If you know the hospital layout you could probably slip through a door that leads to the inner hospital corridors and from there access the patient areas. But if you aren't wearing an ID badge or look like you are not sure of where you are going, somebody's gonna say "Can I help you?"
  8. by   cardiacfreak
    I worked at a smaller hospital 375 bed capacity, and we had a nurse working the front desk, it would be possible to go to the desk and state your name and tell them you are so-and-so's sister/brother. You would not have to show ID or prove relationship. You would get a green visitor pass, the nurse would push a button for you to enter the ER. We do have security and they are stationed next to the ER AS well.
  9. by   DontBeAngry
    Quote from No Stars In My Eyes
    The hospital here has security; you have to talk with a guard at the desk by the doors to the ER proper, have your ID photo taken at that desk saying who you are and who you are visiting and it is affixed to a pass which you hang around your neck. The security desk informs the staffer assigned the person you are wanting to see or be with. Then you sit in the waiting room. You have to be called by name, then checked and buzzed through. There are two people working the security desk...one behind the desk and one by the door.
    If you know the hospital layout you could probably slip through a door that leads to the inner hospital corridors and from there access the patient areas. But if you aren't wearing an ID badge or look like you are not sure of where you are going, somebody's gonna say "Can I help you?"
    This is great, thanks! I had no idea you needed ID badges. Does every visitor require a badge now? Even people visiting relatives that already have rooms/beds? I went to visit my grandmother a couple years ago and we just walked straight from the front door to her room, but that was in a small town.

    Does the staffer tell the patient that so and so is there to see them and get permission for the visitor to come in or do they just make sure the patient is in a condition to have a visitor? Would they let anyone visit an unconscious patient? The character trying to get into the ER is just trying to get a look at the patient's condition, not talk to them. They will resort to lies and distractions to do so.

    Are the guards armed? Do they hold people in a room until police arrive if someone's causing a problem? Like what if someone is drunk and belligerant? What if someone somehow got into the ER without permission (like through another corridor)? Would they just throw them out?

    The doors are locked and have to be buzzed open, so do nurses have to be buzzed through or do they have some way to open the doors themselves? (I must sound like such an idiot. I'm really sorry!)

    Thanks again for any help. I really appreciate it!
  10. by   DontBeAngry
    Quote from cardiacfreak
    I worked at a smaller hospital 375 bed capacity, and we had a nurse working the front desk, it would be possible to go to the desk and state your name and tell them you are so-and-so's sister/brother. You would not have to show ID or prove relationship. You would get a green visitor pass, the nurse would push a button for you to enter the ER. We do have security and they are stationed next to the ER AS well.
    Thanks, cardiacfreak. I asked a whole bunch of questions in my post to No Stars In My Eyes if you're bored and need something to do. I appreciate all the help.

    I just read something about hospitals issuing different color passes for different days, but I guess that would be for bigger hospitals. The hospital I go to has a small security room by the automatic doors (to outside) but I've never seen them talk to anyone or do anything with badges or buzz people through and I've never seen anyone wearing badges. But my experience is really limited and maybe I just never noticed.
  11. by   nursej22
    Security varies from hospital to hospital, and my guess is dependent on size of the facility and any history of previous incidents. At our local hospital, security is present in the ED lobby in the evenings to screen visitors that come to visit in patients, but I don't think they screen ED visitors. The doors into the treatment areas have a badge swipe that staff can use, or the reception can buzz you in. I don't think I have ever seen visitor IDs checked for ED visitors, but I can imagine if a patient was brought in under suspicious circumstances that greater scrutiny might be employed.

    I think some hospital security is armed, but not all. Again, it probably depends on past incidents.
  12. by   DontBeAngry
    Quote from nursej22
    Security varies from hospital to hospital, and my guess is dependent on size of the facility and any history of previous incidents. At our local hospital, security is present in the ED lobby in the evenings to screen visitors that come to visit in patients, but I don't think they screen ED visitors. The doors into the treatment areas have a badge swipe that staff can use, or the reception can buzz you in. I don't think I have ever seen visitor IDs checked for ED visitors, but I can imagine if a patient was brought in under suspicious circumstances that greater scrutiny might be employed.

    I think some hospital security is armed, but not all. Again, it probably depends on past incidents.
    Thanks, nursej22. Especially for the part about swiping badges. I followed that up to some articles about hospital violence. I never realized how dangerous it was to work in one.

    If anyone else has anything to add, I'd love to hear it.
  13. by   herring_RN
    I know of two counties that have at least one sheriff in the emergency department.
    Nurses worked for more than two years documenting how often a sheriff had to be called to the ED for a violent patient or visitor. The last straw was when an officer was called because a confused elderly naked patient grabbed scissors and was trying to hurt himself. The officer shot his gun, didn't hit anyone. Hospital security took the gun away and the patient was restrained. BUT the staff waa frightened.
    Noe most people behave when the officer orders the person to show ID. A loud or threatening visitor who has a warrant or is on probation or parole is handcuffed and taken into custody.
    A public health nurse in a class said the word on the street is that if you curse or argue with a nurse and have so much as an unpaid parking ticket you will go to jail.

    Both have units for the care of hospitalized detainees, some of whom have been convicted and other are waiting for trial. There are guards.

    Visitors show ID, get a bracelet colored for the specific unit, and go through security similar to that at an airport. Often a dog sniffs visitors too.

    At my hospital we allowed two visitors at a time for an alert and awake patients so long as the patient wanted the visitor.
  14. by   DontBeAngry
    Quote from herring_RN
    I know of two counties that have at least one sheriff in the emergency department.
    Nurses worked for more than two years documenting how often a sheriff had to be called to the ED for a violent patient or visitor. The last straw was when an officer was called because a confused elderly naked patient grabbed scissors and was trying to hurt himself. The officer shot his gun, didn't hit anyone. Hospital security took the gun away and the patient was restrained. BUT the staff waa frightened.
    Noe most people behave when the officer orders the person to show ID. A loud or threatening visitor who has a warrant or is on probation or parole is handcuffed and taken into custody.
    A public health nurse in a class said the word on the street is that if you curse or argue with a nurse and have so much as an unpaid parking ticket you will go to jail.

    Both have units for the care of hospitalized detainees, some of whom have been convicted and other are waiting for trial. There are guards.

    Visitors show ID, get a bracelet colored for the specific unit, and go through security similar to that at an airport. Often a dog sniffs visitors too.

    At my hospital we allowed two visitors at a time for an alert and awake patients so long as the patient wanted the visitor.
    This is great, herring. Thank you.

    What are these units called? (Do they have a name?) If a criminal required intensive care, would they still end up in one of these units (ie. are they equipped for that)? Or would they end up in the ICU with a police officer?

    Also, are those security procedures for the whole hospital? Would I have to go through security (and dog sniffing) to see my grandmother in long term care? Or is all that just for the detainee units?

    Sorry for all the questions. I know I must sound like I was born yesterday. I appreciate every reply!

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