Thursday, August 23, 2007

Measure twice, cut once, but Read the Label Three Times

A great little donation came into our collections today: Read the Label Three Times, a collection of anecdotes on nursing. Written by former Doernbecher Hospital Superintendent of Nursing Shirley Thompson, the vignettes are presented as letters from a student. As the preface explains: "This is the story of Ann Bartlett, a student nurse in Southern California, who later worked as a young graduate nurse in Detroit, Michigan during the 1920s and 1930s. The events recorded here are based on the author's experiences, with names changed and some situations telescoped in time."

Here's a snippet from one of the "letters":
The other evening I ran headlong into one of those rules which hover over us. "Never sign any kind of legal paper for a patient."
An elderly woman patient on my unit was very ill, in fact, near death with pernicious anemia for which there is no cure. Her lawyer was at her bedside when I stopped to check on her and he asked me to help hold her up in bed long enough for her to sign her will. She could barely hold the pen but managed to make an X on the signature line. When she finished the lawyer handed me the pen and asked me to sign as witness of her "mark." I frantically explained to him that it was against the rules, but he insisted it was essential and assured me I would not get into trouble. I felt caught in a steel trap but I realized this was about the last effort the patient could make. With great fear I signed my name...
This book is recorded in OCLC's WorldCat, with only one holding institution: the book vendor Baker & Taylor. Since B&T isn't in the business of lending books, I guess that makes us the only library to own a copy. It will be added to our Pacific Northwest Archives Collection and be available to any one who wants to know the rest of the story...

For more information on Shirley Thompson's role in the history of the OHSU School of Nursing, check out Barbara Gaines' great History of the School, 1910-1996, freely available in its entirety from the SON website.

No comments: