• Text smaller
  • Text bigger

The 93-year-old woman was hospitalized at a major hospital in a large city for a minor problem, but it soon became clear there were communication problems concerning her care.

The least of it? Every day on her breakfast tray was a bright, red apple.

Nice touch – visually and nutritionally.

Big problem: She didn’t have a tooth in her mouth.

Despite repeated requests, the order was never corrected.

Then, problems with medicines. Warnings on one specified she should not have cranberries or cranberry juice while taking that prescription.

Regardless, dieticians continued to serve cranberry juice.

Attempts to correct the menu were useless.

Then she was prescribed a blood thinner. That should have been OK, except she suddenly turned almost psychotic.

It turns out she was also given a sedative, which reacted with the blood thinner and literally, totally changed her personality.

A mistake.

No one acknowledged it. No one apologized. The family found out only because of a casual comment by a nurse – “Oh yeah, she shouldn’t have been given that.”

At one point, the patient needed a shower. The relative made the request and was told it would be done.

She left the room at 7 p.m. for a snack, and when she returned, the patient was standing stark naked in the middle of her room, swearing like a sailor at the two aides who were standing there, just looking.

It turns out, the two were supposed to help the patient with the shower. They got her undressed and ready, but then informed her they needed a meal break and would be back later.

Needless to say, the patient was upset and furious, as was the relative who saw this debacle.

The aides left, and others eventually came to assist with the shower, which was finally completed after midnight!

Considering that the patient was scheduled for a minor surgical procedure at 7 the next morning, this situation was outrageous.

Complaints were made, and all the family got was “I’m sorry.”

The surgery went well, but the patient suffered a nervous setback. Not one doctor would admit the emotional episode the night before could have had any effect on her well-being and state of mind.

During this time, the hospital was converting to computerized records, as required by the government. The nurses hated it.

It’s supposed to prevent treatment mistakes, for example, like this, another “middle of the night” event.

The patient had a port in her chest to facilitate IV treatments.

One night, while sleeping in the room with the patient, the relative was awakened by someone walking in and starting to insert an IV in the patients arm as she slept.

The relative stopped her, asking why.

The woman, an aide, said she couldn’t do the procedure with the port because only a nurse can do that.

The relative demanded, “Then get a nurse to do it!”

She did, but no one was happy – after all, it was the middle of the night.

Through all this, the patient was attended by a parade of at least nine specialists, the problem being they didn’t seem to talk to each other to determine what each was doing and how differing diagnoses and care might conflict – to say nothing about the effect on the patient.

The woman coughed a bit – the internist and heart specialist both said there was some fluid in her right lung.

Several days later, a new doctor showed up, introduced himself as a lung specialist and proceeded to examine the patient.

He then told the family member the patient “was OK, but there was some congestion in her left lung.”

The relative said: “Wait a minute, doctor. Everybody else told me it was her right lung.  Are you sure?”

He gave her a look that could kill and said, “As though my life depended on it.”

Finally, family demanded a meeting with all the doctors present to discuss the varied diagnoses and treatments. The meeting was held, but not all the physicians could fit it in their schedule.

Unfortunately, many had already decided that the woman was dying – “she’s 93, after all” – and she and the family should face that.

It didn’t help that the priest who met with the patient privately, and heard her confession, wrote a report saying the woman wanted to die and he put that report in her medical file, for all the physicians to see.

That led to the removal of all IV treatment, other medicines and putting a DNR (do not resuscitate) wristband on the patient. The patient was furious about the DNR band, but it wasn’t removed.

The relative, who was there 24/7, was not told what the priest did until the hospice person referred to the report when she came to talk about how the woman would die.

The relative had sharp words with the priest about revealing confidences. He claimed, with great umbrage, that he never did that and he had no idea that putting such a report in a patient’s medical file was inappropriate!

This was a woman who was not sick, had no disease and at 93 was living alone and taking full care of herself.

It was no surprise she might have said she wanted to die. She always said she’d rather be dead than spend her life in a hospital with no privacy, with strangers pushing, probing and poking her.

The priest and the hospital took her literally.

The system was against her because she was just too old to live.

She gave up and died, even as family were arranging outside care.

This happened just before Obamacare kicked in, full force.

Be very afraid of what it will be like, when all medicine is computerized and patients are ignored.

Follow Barbara Simpson on Facebook.

 

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.