My father had to go to the hospital last night. He was having trouble breathing and the doctor said that his heart was not pumping enough blood. Dad is 71 years old and had a triple bypass about twelve years ago, so heart problems are not unexpected.
The reason I write this, however, is to detail four different conversations with three different nurses within two hours that makes me question the quality and state of health care in the United States.
Conversation Number One:
My father is being pushed in a wheelchair to his room by my brother. A nurse is filling out a questionairre and asks him for his exact height. She tells him that she needs this to be exact because it is a variable in a test they will run on him later. I'll run the conversation in quote form now:
"Well, when I was younger, I was six foot and three quarters of an inch. But I know I've probably shrunk some since the last time I measured."
"So shall I just call it six foot three?"
"No, it was six foot even and three quarters of an inch."
"Do you want me to call it six foot two then?"
"No, you don't understand me. I used to be six foot even and three quarters of an inch."
"Should I call it six two?"
"Let's just call it six foot."
"So you think you've shrunk over three inches?"
Conversation Number Two:
Another nurse comes into my father's room with a questionairre. She was a hospital dietician and is responsible for finding out food allergies. Let me point out that my father is a big, imposing man and weighs about 230 pounds.
"SIr, are there any foods that you are allergic to or cannot eat."
"No, but if you put me on that bland, flavorless special hospital diet, I'm going to get up and walk out of here.
"But sir, I have nothing to do with what kind of diet you are put on."
"Yes you do, you work in that department or you wouldn't be here asking these questions. Your nametag also says that you are a dietician. You're the one who decides what I eat."
"No sir, it is actually your husband that decides what you eat."
(At this point my brother jumped in the conversation)
"His husband! Dad, is there something you're not telling me?"
Conversation Number Three
My father was left another questionairre to fill out. If he was unconscious, would they have had to wait until he was awake or dead to get all of these forms?
Anyway, this one was a basic medical history. On the question that asked if he was pregnant, he had choices of "yes," "no," and "unsure." To be a smart alleck, he checked "unsure." He was nice and just ignored the next question that asked how long it had been since his last period.
A nurse came in to go over the form with my father. She talked about all of the tests and medications that needed to be ordered. She then went through everything, question by question.
My father, jokingly, pointed out that he had put "unsure" on the pregnancy question. Without thinking, the nurse wrote it down and said that she would order one of those tests also. We looked at each other with amazement.
She then asked him the next question, about the length of time since his last period, and got upset when we all burst out laughing.
Conversation Number Four:
Another nurse (one of the previous three) comes into the room and gives my father the schedule for his medicines for the rest of the night and gives him a couple of shots. She asks if there is anything else she can do for him.
"Yes, the last time I was in the hospital, some imbecile woke me up at 4:00 a.m. to get me out of bed to weigh me. If anyone wakes me up at four o'clock in the morning to weigh me, I'll kick his butt out of the room."
"Sir, it is hospital policy that we have to have everyone weighed for the doctors before six o'clock. We generally start weighing everyone about three o'clock."
"You weighed me less than an hour ago when you checked me in. I have had dinner and I don't get a snack. I doubt it will change that much by morning and I'm not getting up at 4:00 to stand on some stupid scale because you have a policy."
"Okay, I'll make sure you're scheduled at the end of the rounds at 6:00 a.m.. Will that be okay?"
"No. What time is breakfast?"
"They serve between 7:00 and 8:00."
"Fine, the first time my weight will change will be after breakfast, you can come in at 8:15 to weigh me. One more thing, when I was in this hospital twelve years ago, they woke the guy up who was in the bed next to me at 3:00 in the morning to give him a sleeping pill. If someone wakes me up at 3:00 in the morning to get a sleeping pill, he's going through that window."
"You don't have to worry about that, sir. You aren't scheduled for a sedative."
"So if I was, they would give it to me at three in the morning?"
The lack of answer from the nurse obviously answered that one in the affirmative!
So, do you wonder why medical costs are skyrocketing and health care is declining? The answer is probably that they are having to send the entire profession of nurses back to school! Either that or there are too many people getting paid to sit in offices and make up questionairres!