For the 25 years I've been staying on and off at Her Majesty's Pleasure, Healthcare Branch, I learnt almost immediately never to ask for painkillers within 15 minutes of handover. At least. 30 minutes is better.
Handover is the term for when one shift goes home and the next take over. In this hospital handover starts at 7.45 am and 7.45 pm. This means I always make sure my painkillers and anti-sickness medicines are PRN, meaning I ask for them when I need them, they are not brought automatically at certain times of the day.
This means I have to ask for painkillers well before 7.30 (am or pm) should they happen to fall due around that time.
It's very hard to explain to someone who isn't in pain how totally unlikely it is that you should "forget" this crucial detail. When it feels like someone is holding a red hot poker deep in your solar plexus, you tend to make a note of the exact minute you asked and make totally sure you don't ask at a time you are likely to be left with that poker indefinitely.
But after all these years, I just can't understand why we still do it that way.
How can we possibly guarantee that 62 patients will be able to suspend the various issues that brought them in here for 45 minutes or so twice a day? Why on earth do all 7 or 8 trained staff nurses, charge nurses and sisters take handover all at once?
Would it not be immensely sensible to ensure that handovers are either staggered, or that we ensure that 2 trained nurses sit out and remain available on the ward while everyone else is unavailable?
I mean, surely in 25 years this has occurred to somebody? Most painkillers are what are known as "controlled drugs" and are locked away. Only two trained nurses can administer them to avoid mistakes or abuse.
If any other business had to close for 45 minutes, twice a day, loss of profit alone would ensure pretty damn quickly that cover was arranged. Surely avoiding human suffering is at least as important as a balance sheet?