Friday, July 18, 2008

America's Turkish Prisons

I ran across this lovely column in my local daily rag the other day. What a wonderful service Ms. Suchetka provides to her greater Cleveland readership with her insights on the dangers and horrors of being hospitalized in 21st century American hospitals. Because you know, having a loved one in the hospital is akin to sending them to some third world infirmary in a prison run by the local military junta. The horror, the horror....

She advocates constant surveillance of granny as she languishes in her air conditioned, wood floored private room. Family members ought to work in shifts, keeping a a close eye on her. Heck, you even might want to consider hiring personal bodyguards/thugs to make sure those evil doctors/nurses aren't doing anything in a typically malicious fashion. Because why else would 87 year old granny with her broken hip and pneumonia acquire something like a bedsore or c diff colitis? It must be the nefarious medical personnel! So gear up America! Get your Pinkertons gumshoe at the bedside of your loved one if fortune should ever necessitate a hospital stay; their lives may depend on it!


Jen said...

Wow- she makes it sound like medical personnel are just out to kill everyone. That's unbelievably bad writing.

I usually stay in hospital with my kids, but that's more for their peace of mind than my worries about their safety. I've heard some horror stories from my husband about hospital care, but fortunately we've never had less than the best care as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

"As she points out in her book: 'Medical mistakes are the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.'"

Way to use a quotation to spread something that seems like such a blatant mistruth and not citing a source at all.

That's the most recent and reliable data I could find in a few moments of time.

Devorrah said...

Thanks for the photo!

Anonymous said...

Let's see. In the past 3 years my mother has been hospitalized 3 times in NYC at Lenox Hill Hosp, and my daughter once at Columbia children's. So far, I have 4 major prescribing fuck-ups, 1 wrong surgery scheduling, 2 attempts to administer meds to the wrong patient and on attempt to place the wrong bracelet. Not to mention, tha small fact that MAYBE 1 out of 10 nurses washed their hands OR used the spray priot to administering meds. Not to mention the MD who threatened to throw me out of the hospital where my 15-year-old was for (ready?) Asking him what the medications were that he was getting ready to give to my daughter. Insulin, for the kid in the Next Bed. At 3:30 in the morning, I wasn't as polite as I could have been. My bad.

Not ONE of these problems were acted on by anyone other than the people involved.

So maybe you all cut us out here some slack, yes?? Otherwise I'll tell you about the anestesiologist who "accidentally" (and over the surgeon's warning) gave my wife such a dose of sleepy that she didn't wake for 8+ hours post-op. If I hadn't been 1/2 hysterical, it would have been funny to see him taking her pulse morbidly, like the machine couldn't do it.

There are a LOT of fuck-ups going on in the hospital. I'd daresay most MDs aren't aware of most of them. Certainly, in my family's case, that was true.

Jen said...

John...don't they have basic barcodes on the patients' bracelet so that they have to check meds before they give them?

I've never had anyone try to give my kids/mother/me meds without scanning the bracelet first, because all of the medication orders are encoded on the bracelets.

NOTHING happens in the hospitals that I've been on without checking bracelets first (and we've never left the ER without the right bracelet)- in Canada (at least in the hospitals that I've been in although since I'm in a relatively populous area of Southern Ontario it might not be the standard) you can't even give out meds without 2 medical personnel to verify the code first. I thought that it was the same everywhere. It was almost annoying sometimes how when the nurses (who knew us extremely well at that point) had to call another nurse in to verify that this was my daughter, and verify that she was getting the proper chemo protocol), but I guess that maybe I should have just appreciated it more.

I know that all of our personnel (even orderlies) washed their hands as soon as they entered a room (ward or private) was so ingrained in them that even in what I would consider an "emergency" they did it. I'm sorry that you've had bad experiences.

I know that my husband had a very bad experience at an NYC teaching hospital with a "good surgeon", but I had assumed that was an exception.

Jeffrey Parks MD FACS said...

John- Sounds like you've had a rough go of it lately in hospitals. Sorry to hear about your frustrations.

There are systemic protocols in place at most hospitals to avoid errors. In order to have your hernia fixed, approximately 65 people will ask your name and the type of procedure you're to have done between the moment you enter the door to the time of incision.

Also, it is standard policy for most nurses to check wrist bands prior to the administration of meds. As for the hand washing, I think you have to ease up a bit. How do know you what the nurses are doing at all times? And, unless the patient is an invalid and needs the pills fed directly into his/her mouth, most nurses will deliver the pills to the patient in a little plastic cup.

It isn't a perfect world, but there's a reason why foreign dignataries and heads of state come to the Mayo Clinic and Beth-Israel for their health care; it's the best in the world...