A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Two Hoser ER Stethoscope

I understand ER is airing it's last episode tonight. I remember watching it for the first time, as a nurse in my first year of practice. I was a burgeoning cardiac nurse back then. At work a curious phenomena was occurring. Nurses were buying cheap two hose stethoscopes and slinging them like a five pound yoke around their neck. The two hose stethoscope felt like a C-clamp in your ears. You couldn't even hear an S3 through them. I could not understand why any nurse would want to spend a twelve hour shift with such a piece of junk around their neck. I was the only nurse sporting a Littman Cardiology II that year.

Finally, tiring of my wife gushing over a new edge of your seat TV drama, I agreed to watch it one evening. I saw Anthony Edwards, George Clooney and Eriq La Salle spit out medical gobblety gook STAT with a swinging boom camera moving from character to character like a drunken bee in a poppy field. Lusty nurses, hunky doctors, drama on the half shell. All of them wore five pound two hose stethoscopes purchased by a wardrobe manager on a budget.

I took one look at my wife. She was transfixed. The illumination of flashing images of her future in the dramatic world of nursing were beckoning her like a flickering neon Budweiser sign pulls patrons into a seedy pub from the rainy streets. "BP 56 over 20! Atropine! STAT! He's not responding! Chest Compressions! Hey! Who took my donuts?!!!" That was enough for me. It was just another form of General Hospital with a dose of blood, gore, screams, groans served up with melodramatic license. My wife loved it. She was in nursing school and had a two hose stethoscope too.

Like me, all the physicians I knew carried Littmans. Only the fictitious physicians of TV land could afford the $29.95 two hoser double tubed five pound chrome plated cool kids gear that the nurses at work carried. By contrast, the nurses on ER wore budget priced single hose stethoscopes with the heads removed to slip a roll of medical tape on the thing. I suppose they wouldn't want a pocketed roll of tape to ruin their figure.

Carter is giving a speech about the Joshua Carter center now, and my wife is still transfixed, misty eyed. The doctors in the bright box of fictitious medicine are now wearing Littmans as a piano plays chords to tug the heartstrings. There is not a two hoser stethoscope to be seen. "Whoop whoop errrrrrrrrrrr whoop!" Another ambulance pulls up to the wet and windy ramp. "Twenty-two year old female! Blunt trauma to the head!"

It's been a long day. The streets outside are wet...... and windy. I seek a muse illuminated by my computer screen, with a very real pager clipped to the collar of my T shirt, hoping it stays silent. There are no plaintive piano chords if it goes off.



Blogger JesterToo said...

I started watching "Grey's Anatomy" as my dad is a doctor and I thought it would give some insight to the world of residency.

Now it's just called "WFW: Who fucked who?", by of all people, my dad.


9:28 PM  
OpenID reflectoscope said...

Amazing the difference between what TV thinks the world is, and what it really is.


10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, and I thought ER stood for "Endless Reruns".


12:10 AM  
Blogger James R. Rummel said...

Good post, even if I have never watched any television medical dramas.


12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, TV dramas are falsified crap. Whooda thunk it?

I guess this means real CSI techs don't wear the tight jeans and low cut tank tops, either.

4:51 AM  
Blogger Lawyer said...

This is why I don't watch courtroom or law office dramas. We may not use stethoscopes, but these shows have just as much misused jargon and rules ignored.

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stopped watching medical dramas way back when "St. Elsewhere" was on. Somebody ordered "Vitsaril" for a patient and I started yelling at the TV and I realized I couldn't suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the program.

I guess I've been a nurse a bit longer than you!

Another nurse with a gun.

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much a pain as "ER" was, Grey's Anatomy is by far the absolute worst... bleh

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Billy Sparks said...

I remember when I was riding as EMS reserve and was one of the only ones carrying a Littman. They could keep those God awful two-tube things.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about military drama TV and police drama TV. It's all a teen sex flick with a medical/military/police wrapper. The scripts are written by those who know nothing. I don't watch any of these glorified soap operas.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is worthless without pics of Parminder Nagra (especially when she had her hair short). And maybe some video in which she is talking with the really thick accent. That . . . is . . . awesome.

Please post two photos of Parminder and call me in the morning.

And now, Parminder Nagra: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2584778752/nm0619406

11:39 AM  
Blogger Rabbit said...

My Sprage-Rappaport was the only thing I could get good lung sounds with because of my right-side predominant tinnitus.

I dunno, I liked Littmanns ok, but all the sharp pulmo docs I knew preferred S-R's until one of the drug reps brought in that case of high-dollar Littmanns and set it in the middle of the table in the doctor's lounge.


1:37 PM  
Anonymous Windy Wilson said...

And here I thought WFW was the abbreviation for "Boston Legal"
Unfortunately for the real world, TV scriptwriters and directors say what they want in an effort to make a dramatic show, and people who should know better think that they're watching documentaries.

2:34 PM  
Blogger stbaguley said...

I bought my wife a Littman when she was in Nursing school in Dallas, and then another neonatal sized one when she specialized in neonatal intensive care. She put me through law school so I wanted to show support. So far so good but she still finds reasons not to go shoot with me, sigh! She was glued to the ER show as well while I read a book, (the paper kind with pages y'know?)

4:13 PM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

I never got into that program, I dealt with enough stuff in real life... And yes Littmanns are great. I have an SE in my go bag.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

I recall having one of those two tube scopes many years ago. The plastic diaphragms had a tendency to crack, and God forbid if you slung it around your neck with one hand; the head on the thing was so heavy it would knock you out.

I wound up buying Littman eventually. A cheap stethoscope isn't worth the money.

9:37 PM  
Blogger TOTWTYTR said...

I watched about 20 minutes of the first episode of "ER" and had enough. The only medical show I watch is "Scrubs" which is more realistic than any other that I've ever watched.

Those two tube stethoscopes are just about useless, especially in a high noise environment.

I like the Littman Classic II, lightweight and reliable.

9:58 PM  
Blogger "Tarak" said...

My unit still provides sprauge two-hose stethescopes. Literally worthless....I have a better chance of hearing adventicious sounds if I just stand 5 feet away with a cup on my ear....

11:14 PM  
Blogger FECH said...

CSI is the worst of them all. I get so sick of people thinking you can get fingerprints off of any surface. Even if you could, it would necessarily be useful anyway.

What they say: "The burglar probably touched this door!"

What I think: "Yeah, him and about the 200 customers that came in today. That really narrows it down."

9:04 AM  

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