Be an advocate

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Feb 24, 2011
My mother-in-law is in the hospital. She apparently has an abcessed diverticulum, which has made her very sick. She was off fluids for a couple of days, but today the surgeon said she could have clear liquids. When we went to visit her this afternoon, she was complaining about thirst, and said she hadn't had anything to drink yet. I went to the nurses' station and asked them about it. One of the nurses said, "Well, the surgeon just ordered it." So I asked, "How long do you think it will take?" I mean, we're talking about a drink of water. In less than 5 minutes, she had some ice water. I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't asked a simple question.

Fifteen years ago, the first time my dad almost died, he was in the ICU, and the doctors weren't quite sure what was going on. He had a blood infection, a high fever, and his kidneys had shut down. I asked a doctor if he could have some sort of pain medication, as he was complaining about pain in his backside. I figured he had pulled a muscle. The doctor said, "I wonder if that's an abcess..." They did a scan, and sure enough, there was the problem. That doctor saved my dad's life, and it's partly because I asked a question.

So what I'm saying is, when one of your loved ones is at the mercy of a doctor or hospital, it's up to you to make sure they get the care they should be getting. Usually all you have to do is buttonhole one of the care-givers and ask a question or two.
You're dead right. I've experienced several similar situations recently as elderly family members have been in the hospital and in hospice.
That's exactly what I did in 2012. My Mom spent 10 weeks in the hospital and I wound up taking 3 months of unpaid FMLA time to see to it that she had someone in there with her. There were several situations that could have gotten ugly had I not been there during the day to observe and question.

And if the need arises again, I will be there; period.
My Dad saved my sister's life more times than we can counts.

Starting off with Spina Bifida, and forcing the doctors to work to save her rather than "let nature take it's course".

Write on the forms "severe latex allergy" (it will cause anaphylaxis in her having a baloon brush past her face), three times at least she nearly died from being placed on latex sheets/pillows...they rang one night to say that she was on the way out, and Dad roared down the phone about the latex. They replied that nobody was that allergic to latex...

Another time, abdominal pain turned out to be a gangrenous ovary. Dad was arguing with the ward matron that my sister's chart had been marked incorrectly regarding the location and contents of a drain. Doctor was about to escort him from the hospital when Dad pleaded to just go an look under the sheets, and see if the chart was wasn't so he opened her up for exploratory surgery, and saved her life.

One time she had a Harrington's rod operation, and was desperate to spend Christmas at home, which was denied because of the pethadine pump that she was hooked up to couldn't come home (duh)...then it turned out that it was actually broken, and no-one had noticed that she hadn't received a drop of the stuff in 4 days...they decided that if she could handle the first 4 days post op without a drop, she could come home.
Being in healthcare, part of the problem is that floor nurses are expected to care for more and more patients at one time( floors and departments are being forced to run leaner). As one nurse stated, i spent most of my shift simply administering medications( handing out pills), not able to spend time assessing conditions etc. While there are healthcare workers out there that should be in another field, there are also very good ones with too much patient load. No matter how good you are you will get stressed out, burned out and some of the best healthcare workers sometimes leave the field, as they would rather do something else that be forced to deliver poor care due to workload.
This will only , and is currently getting worse under the present environment.

The best thing you can do is be a squeeky wheel, you or the patient.
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Originally Posted By: Stelth

So what I'm saying is, when one of your loved ones is at the mercy of a doctor or hospital, it's up to you to make sure they get the care they should be getting.

EXACTLY. Doctors and Lawyers will always get paid regardless of their performance. Some are good, really intuitive, crazy like House on TV. But most, IMO, are really book smart with very little common sense to look for either the obvious, or the details. In my experience, the nursing staff gave my Dad a dose of Valium, then food service came in and gave him his meal. He was found unconscious a short time later, face down in tapioca pudding. And this was in a busy ICU with monitoring in every room, and folks walking by every minute of the day. Never should have happened. I've got dozens of experiences with another local hospital and my Daughter. She has CP, and I've spent literally months in this hospital watching their, what I consider to be, incompetence. I'm sorry about your MIL... Hope she gets well soon.
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My wife was there with her mother when they moved her up to a room. One doctor said she could have clear liquids, then another doctor said nothing by mouth. Then someone brought her a sandwich.
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