To Hell and Back…Or “How a Bird Shaped Washcloth Does Not Equal Good Medical Care”

“Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?”
― George Carlin

I’m sure there are a good number of people wondering where I have been the past month. Well, the short answer is: TO HELL AND BACK!

The longer answer is that my Dad recently ended up in the hospital.  I spent almost the entirety of 5 days (and several nights) at his bedside while he was completely unresponsive with no real answers as to why he never woke up that first morning.  The whole experience was a nightmare- made only worse by the fact that the hospital provided completely substandard care, neglecting my father and treating my mother with an attitude just short of contempt. Their hotel like amenities (complete with bird shaped wash cloths and pillow mints, not to mention the pianos, musicians, and fish tanks- and no, I couldn’t make this $hit up!) did little to make up for the endless short comings.

The ambulance brought him there because it was the closest facility; and having worked there prior to PA school, I was well aware that it was not the greatest hospital (a gross understatement).   At that time they were so caught up in their “Planetree” philosphy that they seemed to have forgotten about medical care in favor of “customer satisfaction“.  However, my family received neither appropriate medical treatment OR good service.  There was nothing even remotely “patient centered” about their care.  In fact, I don’t know how they could have gotten it more wrong!!!!  I would venture that if that hospital ever burned to the ground it would be a public service (not with patients inside, obviously!).

Suffice it to say that any hospital where the doctors claim that neurologists are only able to examine “awake” patients because “80% of an exam is history” or that “neurologists are only useful for performing people brain dead” is no place for anyone who loves their family to send them… (and that’s not even the worst of it!)  

Overall, I would like to personally thank that hospital for taking a terrible situation and making it worse than I could ever imagine.

Thank you for finding us when you needed my fathers insurance info and then forgetting about us for almost 2 hours while my father laid by himself, flat on his back, unresponsive, and unable to protect his airway.

Thank you to the ER doctor who gave us an attitude as if we had just arrived and not had been sitting in the waiting room (seemingly) forever waiting on answers.

Thank you for never acknowledging what a traumatic experience it must have been for my mother to find him in that condition and especially for accusing her of being at fault.

Thank you for assuring us that he would be seen by a neurologist and have an MRI on multiple occasions only to tell us it was unnescessary later and that he “just needs to sleep it off”.

Thank you for INSISTING that my father INTENTIONALLY overdosed on BENZOS, BASED SOLEY ON A DRUG SCREEN WITHOUT EVER CHECKING TO SEE IF ANY OF HIS REGULAR MEDS COULD BE A FASLE POSITIVE, EVEN AFTER I SPECIALLY ASKED AND DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT DID NOT FIT WITH HIS EXAM FINDINGS.

Thank you for not bothering to listen when we told you he had no access to that drug class and instead telling my mother “he has a life beyond just you”.

Thank you for insisting he didn’t need any testing because you were “99.9% sure” he would be awake and normal by morning.

Thank you for never bothering to protect his airway, even by so much as sitting him up DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE COULDN’T EVEN CLEAR HIS OWN SECRETIONS.

Thank you for providing care so substandard that I felt obligated to stay in the hospital all day and night to make sure he didn’t aspirate (at least on the first night) or fall out of bed.

Thank you for never putting him any kind of ulcer prevention while he went without anything to eat or drink for five days…. I’m sure the fact that he is now vomiting blood is completely unrelated.

Thank you for never sending a patient sitter (despite insisting he was actively suicidal) while he managed to tangle himself in his IV tubing and bed rails.

Thank you for using a bed alarm that managed not to go off even when he was climbing completely out of bed.

Thank you for never calling his regular doctor or psychiatrist despite our numerous requests to do so.

 Thank you for failing to realize that NOT ALL DEPRESSED PEOPLE ARE SUICIDAL.

Thank you for being consistently RUDE and DISMISSIVE to my mother and family.

I especially have appreciated the extra effort employed in calling my mother to explain to her how your hospital “did everything right” after the fact, instead of simply apologizing.  You make me grateful everyday that I work where I do and provide the best care I can.  At least I know my patients are well cared for AND that I did the everything I could to get appropriate care for my father.

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11 comments

  1. God, this sounds just AWFUL! Woah. I am so sorry you had to go through this. Do you know what was the matter with him? Is he okay? …some of this stuff sounds like something you could sue over, you know?! I hope you dad feels better — that’s what’s most important! be well, heike

  2. And with Obama Care it’s only going to get worse I’m afraid. Prayers go out to you and your family. Your dad is lucky he has an advocate. Think of the people who don’t & get swept under the rug.

  3. Holy crap! Good thing he had a medically-educated daughter to look after him! This terrifies me. What if something like this happened to one of my parents? I don’t know enough about medicine to be concerned about half the things you took care (or tried to take care) of. My thoughts go out to you and your family.

  4. Oh, wow. What a mess! I’m sorry you and your family had to go through that. I’m glad it’s over, and hope your dad gets well soon.
    You should write a letter to whoever the hell is in charge of that place! And to the editor of the local newspaper. That is horrible. No one deserves that kind of treatment (or lack thereof).

  5. Okay, I am not a sue happy sort of person, but in this case. SUE. How horrifying for your father, for you, and for the the rest of your family! I am so sorry you had to endure something like that! I hope your father is doing better!

  6. [hugs] to you and your family. As someone that works in health care too, I know how ESPECIALLY hard it is to witness lousy care – it is bad enough when it isn’t someone that you love. How is your dad now?

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