15 October 2013

Hospital Protocols Hinder Care

Hospital protocols do hinder and actually harm patients. I had a hard time believing the first part of this doctor's blog until I realized he was not joking. My next thought was why a hospital would treat a doctor in this manner. I would have guessed that a doctor and even a doctor's family would be expressed to the head of the line. I am happy to see that they receive the same poor treatment as the rest of us.

It is a shame that a few patients have required the need for hospitals to enforce strict protocols such as name and personal information before treatment can start. I understand the need for medical information to avoid allergic reactions and medical complications with medications the person is already taking. Yet, patients often arrive unconscious and unable to communicate and they are treated. I can appreciate the need for triage as the most serious patients should go to the head of the treatment line and that should never be disputed. Even this gets complaints from those that feel they are totally privileged and better than the rest.

In a way, it is probably the most fun way to spend a day sitting in an emergency department. It is surprising what happens and does not happen. This happened by accident one day when my daughter injured herself and my wife had taken her to the emergency department. I got there as soon as I was notified, but was refused to see my daughter because she was in treatment. After treatment was completed, I did not see my wife and daughter being moved to the hospital room since the exit used by patients was not visible from the waiting area, which I had been moved into.

This was before cell phones. There were mobile phones, but few people could afford them. So there I was, probably less than 40 feet from my wife and daughter and unable to have anyone look for them. In some ways, this seemed to be a hospital trick to keep families separated. Finally two of us decided to leave the emergency department and go into the hospital since we had not seen any of our families leave. Yes, both of our families had members admitted and we were not notified. For some reason they would admit that my daughter had been admitted to the hospital, but would not tell me which room. If it were not for my wife entering the hallway and upon seeing me, coming to get me, neither of us would have known. It turned out that his wife was in the same room as my daughter.

After some time we were able to convince our wives that we had been there since before noon and been told that we would see them later. The other fellow even guessed that they had been told that they would be informed when we arrived. I finally had to take my wife and his son down to show them the room where we had been kept. Still waiting were five other people that had been there at the time we were there. My wife knew one of the individuals and where his son was in the hospital and the rest were advised to start looking elsewhere in the hospital.

At that point, a nurse came by and asked that everyone be seated and quiet. I am afraid I was less than polite when I asked why we were being denied access to our families. I was told that they did not want too many people in the exam rooms. I said that we were still kept in the dark when our families were moved into the hospital. They were told they would be notified when we arrived, when we had been here for some time. At that point one of the doctors walked by and could tell we were very upset. He wanted to know what was happening. My wife spoke up and said the nurses were causing family stress by separating us from our families. Instead of notifying us when discharged from the ER or admitted to the hospital, those that had been diverted to this room were not informed.

One of those was an executive for a large area corporation and large employer and said that all contributions to this hospital would stop immediately. Several others wanted to know who was responsible for this and that the nurses on duty should all be removed from their jobs. To this, I added the nurses that would not tell us where our families were in the hospital. The doctor finally got quiet and called the administrator to the room. It took another hour to sort things out and supposedly get protocols corrected. The executive said that he was sticking by his word since people were not being held accountable for the mess and with the attitude of the staff could not be ignored. The administrator wanted a private meeting, but the executive said this would be an attempt to hide things from these families. Everyone was taken to the nurse station to find out if their relatives were admitted and even with the administrator telling them to get the information; it took almost 30 minutes, as it was clear, they were dragging their feet.

The local newspapers were notified and six months later, the hospital was sold to another hospital and policies changed. It was fortunate that our family did not need to use that hospital again and moved to another town about four months later.

I would encourage everyone to read the blog by the doctor here and another doctor about that doctor's blog here. It is a shame the protocols established by some hospitals cause more stress and harm to families than good will.

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