Total Pageviews

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's good and bad about modern healthcare? Ask mom.

I spent last evening in the Emergency Department of a regional medical center near my mother's home on Long Island.  She is a spry octogenarian who, wisely, can't stand doctors or hospitals (present company accepted, of course.)  Mom would be incensed to know I referred to her as spry. Suffice it to say that she had a little breathing problem.

Here's the good news.  The resident, the nurse and the radiology tech were fabulous. The latter came in smiling and asked "what is your name?  Can you tell me your birthday?" From mom's point of view this was a bit of a bore, since she'd been asked the same thing six times already.  Of course, this was for her own protection, since wrong patient events continue to plague healthcare, and rechecking before each intervention is protocol.  One check mark for safety!

The nurse was business-like, but polite.  It struck me, yet again, how different it is to be the one sitting at the bedside, waiting for things to happen.  I continue to believe that every physician and nurse should be assigned to this role, say twice annually, to be reminded how startlingly different the view is from this angle.

One notices, for example, that the Le Bon Pain coffee cup from the last patient was never removed.  And were private conversations going on between staff members, you can be sure that we would have heard them.  There weren't.

The resident was a blast!  He breezed in, took a look at the rings on mom's fingers and burst out, "Are you descended from royalty?"  It's funny how this sort of thing works, and part of the reason that we still refer to Medicine as an Art.  In the hands of some, a comment like that would raise suspicions that this doc was a nut job.  However, this particular young man carried it off brilliantly.  I know his program director and I've reminded myself to drop him a note of commendation.

The bad news?  It never crossed mom's mind to find out if her physician is available after hours, whom to call for advice if he isn't, or what to do if she needs a same-day appointment.  Nor, it seems, did the physician or his staff offer this advice preemtively. Knowing the answers would have avoided an ambulance ride, and a very expensive way to obtain two doses of a simple respiratory drug.  I'm not indicting the fellow: maybe mom was told but forgot.  However, I doubt it.

No comments:

Post a Comment