Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Encouraging signs of openness to improving care

As regular readers know, six weeks ago I had emergency surgery to repair an umbilical hernia that had become life-threatening.

Overall, the surgery was a success--I went home alive and now am mostly recovered, although I guess I could still experience complications for up to a year.

But I am a fixer--and some aspects of this experience were not ideal.

--Before I could be operated, I needed a cardiology clearance--this took almost two months to get and I still had not gotten both tests when the thing turned bad.

After the surgery, which meant a big honking incision, I spent two days in the hospital.

--I felt they were short-staffed--it was Easter weekend, but I had to wait 20 mins when in an extreme situation in the bathroom.

--There was a hospital-based doctor called a hospitalist supposedly in charge of me, but he popped his head in once and then when I was cleared to be discharged, he was nowhere to be found to do the paperwork. The surgeons visited me everyday--which was excellent.

--There turned out to be a weird food service system--you had to order food, they didn't bring trays--it was like hotel room service. This had many strikes against it. For one thing, the nurses and aides never even asked me had I eaten. You need to eat to heal! With this system, it was more trouble than it was worth to get food. I am not talking about indicating what you want for a regular three-meals delivery of trays--this is ordering and if you don't, you don't get food.

--The gowns were coarse and scratchy and only seemed to come in two sizes--I am large but their large was GIGANTIC--I was bundled into that thing like I was velcroed in the bed.

--Yes, the blood people still come in the middle of the night, wake you, and stab you.

On the good side, I had several super nice nurses and aides, and praised them to the hospital higher ups.

Yes, I went beyond the robocall survey I got and wrote to the head of the hospital and also to my surgery group--which was later involved in an unfortunate situation when I had a complication.

This is the encouraging part. Both responded with long calls and emails to me, thanking me for the feedback and promising to look into every comment.

So--it pays to speak up. Maybe you can make it better for the next sick, weak person who comes along...

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