Friday, February 17, 2012

Author Beware: Unsecured Narcotics

I was happily reading along one of my favorite best-selling authors when I stumbled upon a troubling set-up. Now, this author makes a lot of money which is why I'm not sure the reason for his not picking up the phone to consult me on his manuscript.

One character had been beaten up fairly well. He was in the hospital on a Valium drip. Huh? That's right, just a bag of Valium hanging and dripping into his veins.


Issue One: Valium is not a pain medication per se. It is a muscle relaxant which can relieve pain from a muscle spasm. However, if you have had the snot beat out of you, let me introduce you to my friends the opiates: Morphine, Fentanyl, etc. These are likely what we would give first for pain.

Issue Two: Valium is not given in a bag as a drip. In fact, I can think of few instances where Valium would be given as a continuous medication. Some shorter acting friends of Valium are-- but you generally have to be in the ICU on a ventilator to get some. This character was not.

Issue Three: Narcotics need to be secure. If a patient needs a continuous amount-- this is what PCA (patient-controlled analgesia) pumps were made for. They are locked IV pumps so that no one can steal the drug from the bag and so that the patient cannot manipulate how much they receive.

Pediatric ICU's do run a lot of continuous drips that are not locked. In these instances, usually a calculation is made at the end of a shift to look at the amount remaining. If the syringe is off by more or less one millimeter-- then generally an incident report is filled out.

So bestselling, multi-million dollar author--- really, just call me up. I'd be happy to help.

Have you read a scene with inappropriate use of narcotics?

11 comments:

  1. I totally dig how much you love researching and revealing accurate medical tidbits. As a medical novice, so to speak, I would have blown right past that in his novel without giving it a second thought. It's a great reminder to thoroughly research something before casually including it because there are those out there who know their stuff. Well done!

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    1. Thanks, Donna! You're my research bud, right?

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  2. Hmmm, a valium drip. Might come in handy if the character is a kidnapper who wants to keep his captives completely out of it. Or does not care if they stop breathing :)

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  3. I have to laugh! I once put down a best selling author's book (who shall remain nameless) because she confused female genital mutilation (which yikes, the female villain was performing in a "home" with female castration(meaning removal of ovaries, a "do not try this at home procedure). I've never read another one of her books since. Even online research could have fixed that.

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    1. I agree, Tanya. Some of these issues are not too hard to figure out. Or, a quick call to a medical type could clear it up fairly easily.

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  4. I have to say, I admire his guts for picking something and running with it. I'm more likely, if I can't find out something, to panic and try to gloss over it, which generally results in keeping the reader at arms length for that scene, which usually isn't good.

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    1. Carrie,

      I don't know if I agree with you on that one. Anything that takes the reader out of the story is bad (like misinformation) because now they're out of the story bubble and wondering, not about your story, but about what you've written.

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    2. Well, obviously glaring errors that you could fairly easily have done more research on are a very bad thing, but I just meant that if you really don't think you can work out what's right, I think it's better to write something.
      I sometimes have to be careful not to end up virtually skipping scenes and just mentioning that they happened. Just my opinion of course, but I think that's even worse.

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  5. Interesting thoughts, Carrie. Something to consider.

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