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Thread: Bad Hospital experience for my Grandmother

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Bad Hospital experience for my Grandmother

    Recently, my grandmother ended up in a hospital. Now, let me tell you this: If you live in the Boston Area, avoid St. Elizabeth hospital at all cost!!!. As it were, she's had no choice -- she was brought into the emergency room, where they had to immediately drain her lungs of fluids.

    First of all, they forgot to tell the personel there that old people have dignity, too. They treated my grandmother like she was sinile (actually, that sounds bad too; sinile people have dignity too!); she may have bad English, but she is 100% in control of her mental faculties. When she complained, they said "Well, m'am, this is a hospital!"; to which she replied, "I worked in a hospital for 40 years, and this is not OK". (My grandmother has been a cardiologist in Russia.)

    Then, it went from bad to worse. They had to do a catheterization; before it, a patient cannot have food or drink for something like 10 hours. I call her at 3 p.m., and she tells me they haven't given her water since previous night. The nurse comes in every 15 minutes, and explains that she is very sorry, but that catheterization could still be done that day, so they cannot five her even water. That day she ended up being without liquids for 18 hours! When we talked to the doctor that night, he told us that they knew they would not be doing the procedure that day from when they took he blood at 9 a.m.!!!!!! He swore it would not happen again.

    Then, next day, guess what? The same thing was happening! The nurse was telling us, "Look, I know they are not going to do anything today, but officially I cannot do anything". We tried calling the doctor, making him talk to the cardio department -- nothing. Finally, my father had a trully brilliant idea. He said, what if we say that we refuse to have the catherization done today? The nurse said, sure! If you refuse, than it cannot be done today, and we can give her food and drink.

    Anyway, my grandmother is scheduled for a heart surgery next week. We succeeded in having her transfered to one of the better hospitals of Boston area. I really hope it won't be like St. Elizabeth.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    What a terrible experience. My sincerest hopes for everything to go well for your mother next week.

    At least you are going in at the right time of year. Mrs. MM is a radiologist. She says that the one thing she learned in medical school is, don't go into the hospital in July. That's when the new residents begin their rotations, and on top of everything else, you might be some young greenhorn's very first patient!

    Mathman

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    Ptichka, it's not just hospitals in Boston that do this sort of thing. There's a very well know teaching hospital in Columbus, Ohio that is well known for this same kind of situation.

    My husband, who's experiencing failure of a kidney transplant, was admitted to this hospital two months ago for a biopsy of his transplant to determine for sure how significant the failure had become. He had to be at the hospital at 7 a.m. for the biopsy surgery at 10 a.m. In preparation he had not had food nor drink since 12 midnight the previous evening except for a little bit of water with which to take his blood pressure pills before we left the house. 10 a.m. came and went, and he was not taken down for surgery. The nurse responsible for his care kept making excuses for the possible delay, I asked her to contact the doctor, which she tried to, but apparently the said doctor's secretary and staff had no clue as to what was happening. During this time my husband was not allowed anything to drink, of course, not even ice chips to suck on. Kidney transplant patients, especially those with failing kidneys who aren't yet on dialysis, must not fast from water any longer than is absolutely necessary. At 5 p.m. the hospital nephrologist assigned to my husbands case came in with the resident doctor in tow to announce that they had gotten bogged down with an unexpected emergency at 9:30 that morning and all the scheduled outpatient surgeries were delayed till the next day. With the steam silently rising from my ears, I managed to politely but sternly ask him why, if he knew the surgeries would not take place on their scheduled day, didn't he relay that information to my husband's nurse so that my hubby could at least have something to drink to facilitate what was left of his kidney to remove waste products from his body. All I got for an answer was---we were a little busy down there, and we didn't have the time to call all over the hospital allerting patients of the delay. When I reminded him that he could well have hastened the demise of my husband's transplant and that I was disgusted with how he had handled the situation, he spun on his heel and left the room leaving a stammering resident honestly trying the remedy the situation. They admitted my husband and he finally got water to drink and food to eat at 8:30 p.m. that night!

    Unfortunately there is no other hospital in our area that does kidney transplantation or we wouldn't be going back to this one. I think it should be noted for people whose loved ones will be having any kind of hospital procedure, no matter how minor, that there should be someone with them to act as an advocate in their behalf when dealing with the doctors, residents, and nursing staff. My husband was too weak from lack of food and water and the anxiety of the situation to demand better care and answers for the situation. I shudder to think what would have happened had I not been there to confront the doctors.

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    Da' Spellin' Homegirl Grgranny's Avatar
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    Oh my, these are just inexcusable. I am so sorry this has happened and also thanks to Mathman for telling us about July!
    I've had bad things happen but mostly by nurses. One decided she didn't like me and so put the bedside table across the room when I wasn't able to get up and couldn't get my water. Seems as if I get a bad infection of some kind every time I go to the hospital. At least now I'm a little more likely to stand up for myself. (but not a lot)

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    On Edge Piel's Avatar
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    Ptichka, first of all good luck to your grandmother with her surgery she will be in my prayers. She was treated poorly here's hoping thenew hopital will do a better job.

    Poor communication between hospital departments and between employees within a department seems to cause a lot of problems. If the doctor doesn't cancel the NPO order even if she/he has canceled the procedure that it was necessary for the nursing staff must keep the patient NPO. But... any nurse worth their salt would contact the doctor to get an order to feed the patient. While the nurse represents the institution they work for they should never forget that their most important job is to be an advocate for their patient. The elderly and the disabled are frequently disrespected here in the U.S. NOT a very nice reflection on our culture. The whole NPO (nil per os/nothing by mouth) order is frustrating sometimes. You have a patient that is scheduled for surgery at 6am and is NPO past midnight. You have a patien that is scheduled for 3pm and the same thing, NPO past midnight. I understand that the reason is that the 3pm could posiibly be moved up because of cancelations/change in the OR schedule. But it doesn't make it any easier to tolerate.

    I agree that patients need to have someone to look out for their best interests and protect them. I always read my chart whenever I am in the hospital. I once found the results of my prostate biopsy on my chart. The good new was I didn't have prostate cancer. The bad news was being a woman I don't have a prostate.

    This could start another thread pet medical peeves.Have you ever noticed that when someone speaks to a person who doesn't speak their lanquage they begin to speak louder and more slowly, like that will decipher the foreign language, LOL? There have been times when I have had to use a wheelchair and evidently that takes thirty years off of your age and 100 points off of your IQ. People will practically talk babytalk to you and do everything except pinch your cheeks. They also ask the person pushing the wheelchair what the person in it wants. Hello, my legs aren't working today but my mind and mouth are just fine. Another thing that drove me nuts was stores that were supposed to be W/C accessible (a law BTW) but were not. I don't know how many times I would be at the mall and find that the isles in a store were not wide enough for a W/C because of displays and extra merchandise placed there. If I would politely say someting to a store employee they would ask me what I wanted to see and tell me that they would bring it to me. Not acceptable. I mean how would they like to go shopping and be told "Just stay outside and we wil bring what you are interest in to the door for you to see." After a while I got to the point that whenever this wold happen I would send the store's manager/home office a letter stating how much I wanted to shop at their store but because of their total lack of respect for the disabled I would be taking my business elsewhere.
    Last edited by Piel; 04-27-2004 at 05:37 PM.

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your wishes.

    I feel for you, Blue Bead. Unfortunately, one can't always be there. In my grandmother's case, we were there right after she got admitted; either my father or myself would stop by the hospital every night. However, as we all work, we couldn't be there every minute she is hospitalized. And, as I have said before, my grandmother's English is quite bad. I mean, anyone who really wants to can communicate with her (her nurses seemed to have no problem), but for someone who doesn't want to take the time it's too easy to assume there is no point.

    Also, a propos treating old people with dignity, I think one of the things that comes in is stereotypes about how people look. I have two grandmothers. One of them looks like a well groomed society lady; the other one looks just like an old granny, especially without her wig on (as it is, they both come from exactly the same social class). I certainly see the hospitals treat them differently.

    Last edited by Ptichka; 04-27-2004 at 05:37 PM.

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    On Edge Piel's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Mathman


    At least you are going in at the right time of year. Mrs. MM is a radiologist. She says that the one thing she learned in medical school is, don't go into the hospital in July. That's when the new residents begin their rotations, and on top of everything else, you might be some young greenhorn's very first patient!

    Charleston Area Meidcal Center which is part of WVU medical school is a teaching hospital. "Medical Service" or "Surgery Service" is the term used for the doctors that are in residency and those that are still med students. The running joke is you know that your luck has run out when you wake up from a coma, look on your ID bracelet and find Medical or Surgical Service after the attending physician's name.

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    Ptichka, I hope your grandmother's surgery is successful. I will keep her in my prayers as well.

    Piel, thank you for bringing up the topic of wheelchairs. My husband has been in one since 1999. Your comments regarding people ignoring the person in the wheelchair really hits home. Usually I am the wheelchair pushee when he needs to navigate ouside of his office. I can't count the amount of times people have spoken to me and ignored him. There has been many an occasion where I have politely informed people that just because he gets around in that chair doesn't mean he is incapable of making his own decisions, choices of foods, or making intelligent comments about all matters of subjects. I do realize that most people have little experience being around the wheelchair bound, but it is demoralizing if you are that person and you are treated like an inert blob. My husband drives himself to work daily, removes his wheelchair from his car and loads it back in at night, and he is quiet capable of choosing what he wants to eat at any restaurant but most people seem to assume that he is blind, deaf and dumb.

    I do try to educate people in the kindest way possible but somedays being kind is really hard,

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    Ptichka and Blue Bead- my best wishes for the health of your family members.

    Many years ago [ Before I realized, if God had meant for me to be a nurse, he would have given me a stronger stomach.] I spent almost 2 years in Nursing school. We were taught that Nurses were supposed to be patient advocates. We were also taught by inference that Drs could be forgetful, egotistical jerks and you sometimes had to work around them. Why weren't your Nurses making more noise? Many times, nurses would call the Dr's office and speak to the nurse. That nurse would track down the Dr, get the orders changed, and relay it to the hospital. The DR who was so busy really only had to make one call. I know it's been a long time since I had anything to do with nursing. I just have a hard time understanding why nothing more was done.
    Last edited by SusanBeth; 04-27-2004 at 06:18 PM.

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    Skating Freak Barbie
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    Ptchika, I'm sorry about your grandmother's experience, and I hope that her surgery will go well.

    I'm also sorry to hear about all the hospital horror stories. Please try not to judge all nurses based on one bad experience. We ARE limited in what we can do without orders....BUT, as someone else said, any nurse who is worth anything will call the doc and browbeat him until she gets what she wants! Honest! I was working with a nurse a few months ago who was SO afraid of calling the doc back in the middle of the night she almost let her patient die. Dumb wench. The nursing coordinator fired her that night, before her shift was even out.

    Nurses in general ARE and will act as patient advocates. We don't get into the job for the glory, fame and big bucks! But there are always going to be the losers who either never should be nurses or have burned out, and that can make a bad name for the rest of us.

    kasey

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    On Edge Piel's Avatar
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    We were also taught by inference that Drs could forgetful, egotistical jerks and you sometimes had to work around them.
    Exactly! Even if the nurse knew what the patient needed you had to make the doctor think that it was HIS idea. Another thing about the good old days that wasn't so great was having to stand for the doctors when they approached the nurses station. Of course that wasI IF you ever got the chance to sit down. Thank gooodness that a lot of that kind of stuff has changed. I think a lot had to do with the superior male doctor over the underling female nurse.


    I won't even begin to get into my thoughts on handicapped parking spaces................

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    Kasey, don't get me wrong, LOL. I don't blame the nurse in the least. The doctor is clearly at fault in my husband's situation. This particular hospital is extremely short-handed when it comes to nurses, and the ones who work there do their best to move heaven and hell. However, there is only so much you can do with doctors of certain personality types. I'm sure the nurses on duty for the shifts my husband was there kept attempting to get the doctor to make a decision, and I realize that such situations can happen all too frequently but this is not the first time this has happened at this hospital. Others I have talked to have had similar experiences. I know that most doctors are harried to pieces during on their rounds and schedules but I wish they would take into consideration that is isn't just the critically jeopardized patient whose life can hang in the balance if the right procedures aren't followed (and I'm not saying that the vast majority of doctors don't take everyone's needs into consideration). People who have more medically wrong with them than anyone should ever have, but who aren't in guarded conditon at that moment, could be in serious trouble quickly if certain situations are permitted to go on for long periods of time. That needs to be taken into account as well.

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    I, too, agree that it wasn't the nurses' fault. Simply, some bureaucratic procedures should be in place. Such as -- you decide you won't do the procedure that day due to a blood test, you notify the nurse. In Blue Bead's case especially -- someone obviously made the decision to cancel all oupatient surgery for the day. It wasn't just a doctor; I am sure there was an administrator who should have known; then, the administrator should have notified the nurses. I agree that perhaps doctors were too busy, but that's why there should be other, less paid workers, to do the communication between doctors and nurses.

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    On Edge Piel's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Ptichka
    I agree that perhaps doctors were too busy, but that's why there should be other, less paid workers, to do the communication between doctors and nurses.
    Yes, a secretary/clerk could relay a message like that surgeries were being canceld for the day. BUT the order to feed the patient would legally have to be given directly from the doctor to the nurse....can't take orders second hand.

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    bugs are smarter than we are bronxgirl's Avatar
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    I always told my father "Never be an interesting case",-well one year he had the misforturne of not only being an interesting case, but being interesting in JULY! It didn't matter that I was a recent alumna of the training program, I still had to be on top of things to make sure he recovered. I truly dread what will happen when some of these new interns and residents become our docs in our old age. (FEH!!!)

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