Oopsy! 9,999 Units of Blood

photo: jparadisi 2011

I don’t remember what year of my pediatric intensive care career I discovered an aptitude for electronic devices, but I do remember I was caring for a patient with multiple monitoring lines: intracranial pressure (ICP), arterial pressure, central venous pressure (CVP), pulse ox, transcutaneous CO2 monitor (TCOM), as well as intravenous access lines and realizing that if I could maintain all of those wires and tubes safely, I could probably set up my stereo system at home without help. And I did. Next, I discovered setting up a computer and adding on a printer wasn’t difficult either. I plunged ahead fearlessly, learning to use ATMs and grocery self-checkouts before some of my male friends (sorry, that’s sexist). Today, I own a trove of personal electronic devices, including a smart phone, tablet, and a reader. I fully credit my initial interest and competence in electronic devices to my ICU nursing background.

That’s why it’s so funny that last week, I accidentally “released” 9,999 units of red blood  for a single patient on our hospital’s new electronic medical record system (EMR). Fortunately, in EMR lingo, “releasing” 9,999 units of blood is not the same thing as preparing 9,999 units in the blood bank, so only the two units ordered by the physician were prepared. No blood was wasted due to my error. The problem was accounting in nature: I couldn’t clear the remaining 9,997units from the EMR.  A very nice peer specialist came to our department and explained my error before he fixed it. Maybe it was inappropriate, but I couldn’t help but break into a quiet chorus of “9,999 units of blood on the wall, 9,999 units of blood… Take one down and pass it around, 9,998 units of blood on the wall.”


  1. I LOVE your blog background. Absolutely love it.

    I also am a tech addict. I’m reminded of those days when it seems like all I do with a patient is hang blood… i’ll have to break out a round of 9,999 units of blood the next time I admin some!


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