My First Code Blue

It was July, the start of summer holiday for kids and fun in the heat for many – not quite for me. It was my second last rotation in my PharmD program, a rotation in Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

It was nerve wrecking.  I was already exhausted from the travelling and all the work from my previous rotations. I wanted to relax at the beach but I was stuck in the ICU.

Then a new admission arrived, a 22 yr old male unconscious with acute pancreatitis. I thought to myself, “What do I know about acute pancreatitis? Absolutely nothing. Ok. Mental note – read up on acute pancreatitis tonight.”

I started to gather my information: name, age, gender, allergies, past medical history, current medications.  The patient was unconscious with no collateral source available. There were few blanks in his story waiting to be filled out.  I started to look at  his lab results… out of wack, especially the LFTs, GGT, Alk Phos….

Then someone called the Code Blue.

It was him, the new admission, my first patient. Everyone gathered around him, started calling out instructions, a crash cart came, the defibrillator went on his chest  and the rest was a blur. I was standing at the back, watching the entire scene unfold. It felt like watching Chicago Hope, ER, House or Grey’s Anatomy. Only it was real.

After about 10 mins, the patient was pronounced dead.

Then I look at my barely started work up plan. It was supposed to be my first patient in ICU, to work up any drug related issues, to figure out a master care plan to “wow” my preceptor.  It was no longer needed.

Then my preceptor came to greet me with a smirk, “Welcome to ICU!”  I took a look at the dead patient before he got wheeled out. I knew it was going to a long month here.

“I am so dead.”, I thought.

But then I started to console myself, at least if I developed a cardiac arrest, I was at the right place at the right time, probably would receive the right treatment with the right monitoring plan. That was my perfect care plan for myself.  

So I started to regain my composure and began to search for my next patient, hoping that I could fix something before he or she coded before my eyes.  


Published by


My name is Cynthia Leung and I am a practicing pharmacist in Kingston Ontario, Canada. This blog is for me to share my ideas, opinions and perspectives on how medications are used in our health care system. Note that these posts are my own opinions and do not represent the opinions of my current or former employers and / or organizations that I may belong to. Any possible case scenarios described in my posts would be modified to maintain patient confidentiality. This blog is not a platform for professional advise for patients or health care providers and the content is not meant to support any clinical decisions or replace professional opinions. Also the images are either taken or created by the author, or adapted with permissions. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts!

One thought on “My First Code Blue”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s