One Moment

I wish I could say that this is a story about miracles, about survival or about angels saving others, sadly its not. Its a story about negligence, of utmost stupidity and failing to see a threat right before their eyes. Its a story I witnessed unfold while working as an ER nurse a year ago in the Philippines.

I was working in a tertiary hospital in my hometown. Afternoon shift. Or was it morning? I could barely remember the exact time, as if everything was a dream. ‘Twas a busy day for us, so many patients seeking medical care and I had a patient who was coding, intubated and all. Then amid all these, a toddler was brought in, with a cracked skull, barely alive.

Immediately, a code 11 was declared and since my other patient was stable, I too rushed in to help out. I saw how frenzied the relatives were. Among them, was a young woman, mid-20s, staring blankly, tears in her eyes. Later on, I learned that she was the child’s mother.

Everyone in the ER knew that the little girl won’t survive but we have to try. We have to do everything we can, apply all our knowledge and try to save her. It was too late and her injuries so massive no one could save her. So, the senior resident gave us this task: assist the child in having a peaceful death. Let her relatives be with her. We knew that the relatives would have financial difficulty, so we used as little as possible, even giving some stuff for free. Instead of hooking her onto a ventilator, we just used the ambubag, and manually pumped for two hours until she took her last breath.

She was gasping, her eyes half-open, her body limp. I touched the lump in her head and it was the size of my palm. I felt really terrible at how her life was cut short. I felt anger rush in my head when I found out what happened: she was playing in their upstairs bedroom with her mom. And her mom let her sat on the windowsill to stare out and watch their surroundings. For one brief moment her mother turned around to pick up something, next thing her mother saw was her falling head first on the ground. She didn’t die instantly, she suffered for more than two hours until death finally took her. I wanted to grab her mother, shake her, slap her, to yell at how stupid she had been. But as a nurse, I could not do that. And I know that no amount of physical pain could match the guilt and sorrow she was feeling.

After everything, we did post mortem care to the baby, I said a simple prayer and asked the relatives to view the child one last time and we wrapped her. Up to this day, that event haunts me. Makes me feel sad every time I remember that child’s face. Sorrow grips my heart every time I remember those moments. This is a story I want to share to everyone, not just for nurses, but to all mothers out there, maybe even dads, and relatives who look after little kids. One moment of negligence can claim another person’s life. Just one moment. I will always remember that moment, maybe until I’m old, it will always be in my mind.

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  • navyduck

    i am a nurse and i have a 1 year old daughter. it pains me so much to read stories such as this. the thing is we are living abroad and i am working and i leave my baby with a sitter at home.she is not a relative but just a recommendation from a friend so i really do not know her. i don’t have a choice but to trust her that she will take care of my daughter and pray to the Lord to keep them safe from harm.
    you are right,only one moment of negligence and it could mean a lifetime of guilt and sorrow.
    now i need to call my sitter and ask how they are doing.
    thank you for your post

    • prexyvsRNRPN

      it must be hard leaving your child.. its a sacrifice so many people has to endure.. i cannot put into words how much it saddens me whenever i remember this case, but i have to share it.. warn others..hopefully, save a soul or two in the process.. 🙁