There are so many thoughts that one can have about them, both positive and negative. A chance to save a life or a theft of the last few remaining moments of dignity. I am aware of, and acknowledge, both sides of this heavy coin.
But I like them. I like when we get the heads up call from dispatch. I feel a little jolt of excitement, the chance to bring all of our skills and training to bear. I know most of the time, frankly just about all of the time, it’s a futile effort. Rare is the case that the person who codes has a meaningful outcome. I get that we code a patient for the family more so than the patient. That more often than not, we strive to keep the heart beating just long enough for the family to arrive and be at their side for their last “breath”. I also get, that this is not the way it should be. That this process is reflective of a broken system and unrealistic expectations.
I also appreciate why the nurses don’t generally get excited about codes. It’s a lot of work, a lot of charting, a lot of time, and it creates a heck of a logistics jam, both to staffing and patient flow throughout the rest of the department. I’m pretty sure the only time I’ve heard the charge drop an F bomb is when she was told one is coming in.
But dammit, let’s get still get excited about it. I know, that you know, that I know, that is mostly a show with no happy ending. But one time, maybe sometime soon, it’s going to really matter. It’s going to be a kid, or a young mother, someone where we can actively change the course of the outcome. And for that reason, every code counts. If nothing else, even if we all know we can’t make a difference, it’s still a chance to improve. A chance to practice, to learn, to get better, to identify our weaknesses, so that when the lights ARE really bright, when it matters the most, we’ll be ready.