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“What was this?”

From “psychosis buster, RN:”

(For the longest time I kept reading it as “psychosis butter.”)

Way back in the eighties I was working on a 40 bed acute psychiatry ward in a fairly large Canadian city. One day, one of our repeat customers, a chronic paranoid schizophrenic patient, was admitted from Emergency. She hadn’t been looking after herself and she was covered in lice, as was her (expensive) fur coat.

Two of my co-workers figured they’d do her a favor and send the coat down to our laundry department for cleaning. Unfortunately, they thought it would be a really good idea to send it in a red “contaminated laundry” bag – this was before the advent of universal precautions. What they didn’t know was that the laundry department didn’t open those bags – they just tossed the whole kit and kaboodle in the washer, along with very hot water and strong soap.

The next day, a plastic bag arrived on the ward from the laundry department. It contained what looked like a hairy collar, with several strings dangling from it and some ratty fur, with a note asking “what was this?”

Well, it had been a fur coat valued at something like five thousand dollars. Fortunately, the hospital agreed to reimburse the patient. To this day, I don’t know which was funnier: the pathetic remains of that coat or the expressions on my colleagues’ faces when they saw it.

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  • profileI am Gina. I have been a nurse for 15 years, first in med/surg, then CVICU, inpatient dialysis, CCU and now hospice. This blog is about my experiences as a nurse, and the experiences of others in the healthcare system - patients, nurses, doctors, paramedics. We all have stories!

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