Ask Jennifer: Week ending 9/21

Updated: 09/03/2014 1:00 PM
Created: 08/04/2009 11:50 AM WHEC.com

“I Don't Trust Hospitals."

Dear Jennifer,

I read your letters every week. I was moved by the woman who worried whether her mother gets the right medications. I’m writing because I had such problems in the hospital with my father. We were at (name withheld) hospital and it seemed like anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. The recurrent theme was inaccurate information. I told them all about my father’s condition and his medications. When the next doctor came on duty, he had some of the information about his medication wrong. Then the doctor said he would order a new diuretic. The next time he got his medication, the diuretic wasn’t included. The nurse hunted all over but couldn’t find the order. She paged the doctor and he came up and wrote it. It went like that every day. I wondered who’s communicating with who. What if I wasn’t there? Do you have any comments?


Dear Alice,

First, thanks bunches for putting me on the spot. LOL. The problem is the back-up in emergency rooms, the shortage of doctors and nurses. And, if I’m being honest, it’s the impact technology has on our report system. We are relying too much in my opinion, on data entry, and not enough on checks and balances and team effort. In my day, we had team report to review all the clients on the unit. Today, “report” is between the nursing going off the shift and the nurse coming on the shift. It leaves too much room for something to get dropped. The doctors “round” each day and count on the report of the patient and the nurse. I know that the patient is not always a good historian. Again, (I’m showing my age) when I was a young nurse the doctors believed in a Rule of Five. This meant that you asked the same group of questions 5 times, because way too often, on the fifth try, the patient came up with something important that hadn’t been said before. I believe everyone is trying their best. I have two recommendations:

Patients: bring an advocate and/or be your own medical secretary. Keep track of your discussions with the team and the treatment plans. This is your checks and balance. We have entered a time where each of us must become much more involved in our care and communication than ever before. Each of us should not be a passive patient, we should be an integral part of our own care plan.  


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