Monday, June 05, 2006


Via Renegade Rebbetzin, a blogger shares the story of the horrible treatment she received while in a hospital before and after the birth of her son.

As many of you know, my mother is chronically ill, and has been in and out of hospitals for as long as I can remember (she's actually in hospital right now). She's been in a lot of hospitals. And once, I spent a week with her, practically sleeping in the hospital every night -- this was at one of Boston's finest medical facilities.

And I can tell you from experience, the hospital that provides reliable care, compassionate nurses, and a sense of being safe and cared for by people who want you to feel OK is very much the exception, not the rule. I'm talking about America now . . . and from what I've heard, it's not any better in Israel.

The story at the Tarrying blog is not a crazy string of coincidences. It is the level of care which can be pretty much expected at most hospitals. Pain medications that do not come for hours. Nurses who roll their eyes at you if you want help with basic needs like sitting up or brushing your teeth. Dangerous mistakes involving potent medications. Doctors and nurses who tell you that you're imagining things. Hospital staff who berate you for trying to take care of yourself, when they won't

Here's an important tip: If someone you love is admitted to a hospital, do not leave them alone there. The only way to make sure that medications come, that your loved one will not have to wait for an hour for something to drink, that your loved one will have help going to the bathroom when they need it, that nurses will speak kindly because they see that they are being watched by someone who is healthy . . . is for someone who is not sick to be there 24 hours a day (or, as many hours as humanly possible). If you can't be there, call the patient every couple of hours to find out what's going on (unless, of course, they need to sleep), and then call the nurses' station to complain if necessary . . . and keep calling until the person you love gets what he or she needs. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

If you leave a sick person alone in a hospital, chances are that they are just getting a bed, some fluids, a television, and not very much else. Meanwhile, they probably aren't sleeping well, because people in the halls are noisy, there is too much light, and it's pretty much impossible to get real rest. (Believe me, I've tried sleeping in the hospital. You'd think that at 3 am, the staff would make an effort to be quiet when they are in the halls. But, no.)

Also, if you yourself are the sick person, or you are caring for someone who is sick, always check the meds that are brought in for you before ingesting them. My mother was almost killed just a few weeks ago by a nurse who mis-read a doctor's order, thinking that a potent drug my mother takes three times per week was supposed to be given three times a day. The only reason my mother is alive right now is that she checked the pills herself to see what was in the little cup.

I could go on and on with stories. Doctors who tell you that you are sick because you keep kosher. New nurses who think that they know more about your illness than you do, even though you've had it your entire life. Being labeled a "difficult patient" and having nurses and aides call you stupid. Pushing the nurse call button over and over for two hours before anyone comes to see what is wrong. But you get the gist. Hospitals are just about the cruelest places to be sick. Tarrying's post comes as no surprise at all.

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