As I've mentioned before, our ER recently got small flat-screen TVs installed dangling from the ceiling of all the patient areas. Isn't that nice. Too bad they're not like these.
Ours don't have touch screens that show patient information and x rays. Ours don't have movies on demand. Ours just hang there, controlled by a weird remote that dangles at the bedside.
When the TVs were installed, I was skeptical. Sure, this might keep patients happy during long waits to see the doctor. But I had a feeling that they would most likely be trouble.
Well, guess what? I was right. Go figure.
Yes, they do keep patients happy during long waits. But that's it. The doctors all complain that they are competing with the TVs for attention when trying to obtain a patient's history. All eyes go to the idiot box, and it's taking longer for them to get useful information out of people and their families.
It's increased the noise level of an already noisy department. The TVs come with these remotes on a cable that turn the TV on and off, change the channel, and have a little speaker so you can clip it to your pillow and hear the TV right next to your head. Patients and their families can't figure it out, so they stand on chairs to change the channel, turn the TV off and on, and they crank the volume so everyone in a three-mile radius can hear it. I've become the noise police--turning volumes down and instructing people on the use of the remote so they don't disturb the grieving family with the dying grandpa on the other side of the curtain.
And it's a good thing that people are happy during waits, because they are going to be waiting even longer, since now our transporters don't have to try to sneak to the lounge (where they are easily found) to watch the game on TV. They just hide around the ER, watching basketball or football behind curtains of unoccupied beds. We have to search and search before we find them. I've uncovered little Super-Bowl-partylike gatherings--complete with snacks from the vending machines, where transporters and techs are staring, fishlike, at the screen. I've learned, when no one can be found, to look at feet at the bottoms of curtains--lots of feet standing in a row = slackers watching TV. When you evict them, they just gather somewhere else. The techs just pretend to be doing patient care on some comatose old gal from a nursing home while they gawk at the boob tube.
Other nurses and docs have written about the American Looky-Loo (the relatives who don't stay at the bedside but who peer around and wander the floor looking for things at which to gape); I've found a new species that seems to be closely related: the ER TV Hog: Relatives who, since they don't want to deprive the patient of watching what he or she wants, will appropriate the next bed and TV. I had to constantly remind two men who were visiting their 90-year-old mother that it was not allowed to sit on a clean stretcher to watch their ball game and that if they wanted to watch TV, they should do it at their mother's bedside, not in a clean area. I even had to eject them when a patient was assigned to the bed.
And just wait! Soon the TVs and remotes will begin to break. Then in addition to pleas for cups of ice and food and sodas and juice and sandwiches, we will get, "Whys mah TV aint workin!"
I can't WAIT!