Evening On Call 

A few weeks ago I took part in an evening on call simulation. It was me, a bleep and fake scenarios across different wards. It was just an hour and it was definitely a positive experience but boy, was I glad when it was over.

Lessons learned:

  • The bleep is not a walkie talkie. You don’t actually talk through it.

This was a surprise to me. I’d seen doctors carrying bleeps around hospitals. It’s this small little black box thing that they clip to their belt or their lanyard and it just bleeps when they are being called. It just didn’t occur to me that I had never actually seen a doctor talk through one. The bleep comes with a location number and then the doctor has to call that number from any telephone set in the hospital and that will get them through to the telephone that bleeped them.

  • Ask for patient details when you get a bleep call.

My first rookie error that will hopefully mean that I don’t actually do this on my first real evening shift as an F1.

There is a patient on Rose Ward with a really high potassium, can you please come and check on them.

Of course, I’m on may way.

5 flights of stairs later…

Hello, I’m the F1 on call. I was bleeped about a patient with a high potassium.

Which patient?

Umm….the one with the high potassium?

  • Ask whoever bleeped you to get things ready.

Can I see the patient’s ECG please?

We weren’t asked to do an ECG.

Oh, that’s ok. Can you do one now please?

Yes, but it will take 10 minutes.

Oh, ok. Not like this is a potential emergency or anything…(in my head, and mostly directed at myself)

  • You can actually take the lift and you don’t really need to run.

It is not like TV. I’ve only ever seen one person run to something, and that was to a cardiac arrest call, and even then, he wrapped up the conversation we were having for about 2 minutes first.

  • Make good notes.

It was only an hour and my notes were a mess. You need to keep track of what jobs need doing, patients need seeing, what you need to chase up, what you have already done, patients you need to handover to the morning team.

  • Hospitals are really quiet in the evening.

And I’m not completely certain about the ratio, but I think it’s like, two F1s for all the wards in a medium-sized London hospital. Scary.



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