Thursday midnight: Kuwait isn't sleeping. Parties, gatherings, functions, and discussions over dinner that might lead to morning coffee. For most people, the following day is a holiday. But some are too busy burning the midnight oil the whole weekend to even notice it's a weekend!
When the weekly duty schedule arrives, some nurses love to hate their Thursday night duty. Working at the weekends is a nightmare they share with nurses all over the world for a common reason: weekend emergency cases. Not only are the number of accident cases alarmingly on the rise in Kuwait, but also the country's uninvited weekend guest - sandstorms - make many asthmatic patients rush to the hospital which makes the whole night a never-ending rush hour. Food poisoning, fatigue, anemia... the weekend case
list can only get worse. Add to this, you have people who come out only after twilight for a simple routine check-up.
Our casualty area is usually prepared for the weekends with extra equipment and medicines," says Achamma, a senior nurse in a local Ministry of Health hospital. Cases known as the Four A's dominate weekend shifts: Alcohol, Accidents, Asthma, and Abuse. There are people who resort to illicit liquor - especially on weekends - in a bid to chase happiness and later drive back home in an inebriated state. Then their route to happiness takes a wrong turn and they end up in the hospital.
On average, we receive five to eight accident cases every weekend. If a weekend has an extra holiday attached to it, the number of outpatients is higher," says Nidheesh, a male nurse at Mubarak Al-Kabeer hospital. For him, "Mubarak is where people immediately think of heading to since the medical college is affiliated to it. So we have many casualty cases which we refer to other hospitals after the initial treatment.
Nidheesh laughs about the male nurses' added nightmare of carrying patients who are huge in size.
My female colleagues naturally expect the other male nurses or me to physically deal with male patients who are aggressive in nature," says Nidheesh. "We've also had instances where our doctors were physically assaulted by some irate patients.
A weekend party is a good reason for people with psychosomatic illnesses. After the party, they flock to the hospital demanding various check-ups. "Feeling uneasy is the symptom," says another emergency nurse. "But when they see that the casualty department does not even have a spare bed, they wait impatiently, if not intolerantly.
Paediatric Casualty is another example where the patience of medical staff is always put to test. Babies crying non-stop, parents growing impatient, and the edginess experienced at the difficulty of finding a miniscule vein to administer drips are common scenes during a harrowing weekend. But it's quite sad to notice that parents sometimes wait for the weekend to bring the child to the hospital. What could have been solved by a simple injection ends up requiring more attention. "Children almost always get
the common cold," says Tony, a pediatrician. "But parents unnecessarily panic and say, 'Doctor, could you check if my child has swine flu?'
Older children bruising themselves and ending up with fractures is a common problem during the holidays. Nurses on night duty get phone calls from their own teenage kids saying: 'Mom, brother hasn't come home yet." When she responds with a curt "Tell your dad," the next remark is likely to puzzle her more: "Dad isn't home either!
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