By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor
You’re working in the ED of a 300-bed metropolitan hospital one Sunday morning when you receive a radio transmission from a paramedic whose ambulance is en route with a casualty of a suspected nerve gas attack. The paramedic reports that two additional ambulances are also on the way. Nerve gas? You’re stunned. What should you do first?
That’s the start of our 2002 article (free for a month, until October 5) about chemical attacks and their aftermath. Such an event is not an impossibility here in the U.S. Remember the 1995 attacks in Japan, in which sarin gas was released at several points on the Tokyo subways by members of a radical cult, killing 12 and injuring thousands? And there is now convincing evidence (not to mention horrific photos of the many children killed) that the Syrian government used nerve gas on its own people last week despite widespread prohibitions against its use. In fact, USA Today reported that a number of the nurses and physicians who treated the victims of the gas attack may have subsequently died themselves from exposure to the patients’ clothing and skin.
Our 2002 article describes how nerve gas works on the body, the main types of poison gas that are known to exist, the history of chemical warfare, hospital preparedness, the drugs that are used to counteract the effects of poison gas, how to undertake patient decontamination, and other essential facts providers should be aware of.
Since many nursing students recently returned to school for the fall or started their first year, this seems a good time to trot out some greatest hits from our posts by or about nursing students or some aspect of nursing school:
Tell us: what can we do to better address the needs of nursing students? What do you want to hear about from veteran nurses?
Remember the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? There’s an enthusiastic and nuanced review in the New York Times of a new book by journalist Sheri Fink called Five Days at Memorial. It’s about Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina, when nurses and physicians found themselves on their own in making agonizing decisions about the treatment of a number of critically ill patients. The situation and its legal aftermath, in which several providers were charged with murder, raises complex and important ethical questions with no easy answers. The facts of this awful episode remain both disturbing and riveting, and are certainly worth learning from. Read the rest of this entry ?