Archive for category Hospital care

A Design For American Health Care

ahc_logo2What an opportunity!  A design for American Health Care that is badly needed, a blank slate, an open door, a blank check.  So what blogger could resist the obvious invitation.  First is the logo — I hope you like it.  No more Medicare, Medicaid, Indian Health Service, Veterans Administration, Blue Cross or United Health.

Who gets AHC?  Well, every US citizen.

How much does it cost?   The annual out of pocket cost is limited to just $1000.

Is there any paper work?  NO.  No paperwork, no bills, no EOB, and no insurance claims.

What do you need for healthcare?  Just your AHC card.

What is the price list?

  • Office visits:  $25
  • ER visits $50
  • Thirty day prescription $10
  • Surgery  $100
  • Hospitalization $200
  • Medical equipment $75
  • Medical devices $75
  • Ambulance $100

What is the national healthcare budget?  It’s set by congress.  Initially budget neutral at three trillion dollars (or whatever budget neutral at this time).

Where does the money come from?  Taxes.  Instead of insurance premiums it’s included in your taxes.

Do insurance companies go out of business?  No.  They process claims from healthcare providers, pharmacies, hospitals etc.  The person getting healthcare does not need to be involved with all the paperwork.

What government agency runs the program?  Medicare, under the AHC name.  Providers bill the claims processor and AHC pays the processor.

Is great American health research affected?  No.  This is a health care system.  Research is not health care and is outside the system.

Can people obtain health services, like for cosmetic surgery?  Sure.  Any services you want to purchase yourself outside AHC is fine.  But, you still pay the same taxes.  AHC does not pay for private care.

Are the States excluded?  No.  The States are responsible for managing AHC in their States.  The Federal Government sets the standards for the country.  The States make it happen.

Why would national costs be lower?  Because America as a country negotiates prices and because cost would be capped by the congressional budget for care.  The cost would be the same the first year.  Waste is a major problem — with better management of a system waste can be addressed.  Since about one half of US healthcare cost is consumed by waste there is lots of room for improvement.

What about poor people?  The deductible would be lower than $1000 — but because the deductible is low to begin with not many would need this help.

Now would be a good time for the applause.  Your humble blogger thanks you.

 

 

 

 

, , , ,

1 Comment

US Healthcare Diagram — results are what count

us-healthcareThe U.S. healthcare system is going to change or at least be updated in the coming years.  So, when congress tinkers with the system what might be good changes and what might be bad changes?  That is the $3 trillion dollar question!  It would be fair to say most people and most congressmen do not understand U.S. healthcare — the prevailing notion is overwhelming complexity and way too much cost.  However, this blog is going to make the case the key to understanding and the key to making changes is to keep your eyes on the results.

What results?  It’s not complicated, it has to do with measurements.  Consumer Reports and J.D.Power know we want to buy value.  And, value in this case is the reasonable cost for wellness, longevity and successful treatment of disease.  That’s it, three things.  Whatever changes or tinkering are contemplated we just need to know those three things will be getting better and simultaneously costing less.  Politicians have a really bad habit of saying the changes they propose will do the job.  Nobody can predict what will work — there are always unintended consequences — so, any proposal must include a dedication to measuring the outcomes we want — if the change does not work it needs to be discarded as soon as possible.  And, discarding what does not work can’t wait for the next election and should not wait until tomorrow.  Simply, we want results, and we want the data as proof.  On a hopeful note, if something works, keep doing it.

The above diagram describes U.S. healthcare.  It is more simple than the systems in other countries.  The system is linear — people, illness and unlimited money on the left side pass to the results on the right side.  This is a flow diagram of the system.  The complexity can be hidden by thinking in terms of the five boxes.  Later, some of the complexity will be discussed.  First, consider the boxes:

  1. Money to pay for the system.   The money people earn is paid to the health care system.  Money is money — it does not matter if the money comes by way of taxes, insurance or cash.  Funds that do not come from insurance come from the other sources.  This is the cost of U.S. healthcare which is about $3 trillion.  Don’t pay the money, you don’t get healthcare.
  2. The healthcare providers.  Traditionally we only think of doctors, hospitals and drugs.  We often overlook the other things in the box.  Things we don’t like, things healthcare providers would like to see in another box.  These other things are hugely expensive and fully under the control of the healthcare providers.  Unnecessary treatment is perhaps one of the worst — treatment or tests that are not needed.  For example, an EKG done as part of a yearly exam on a healthy person.  Profit is in this category.  Clearly, no profit, no healthcare system.  But, profit beyond what is needed is just waste for the system — it is money that leaves the system and does not come back.   Inefficiency comes in many forms.  Failing to prevent diseases early, only to spend more money later is supremely inefficient.  Corruption is a problem in every human endeavor.  Errors turn huge amounts of money into waste.  The money spent on medical liability suits is just the tip of the iceberg.  Money spent to prevent errors is minuscule compared to the money spent on drug marketing.
  3. Who gets healthcare?  Everybody.  The aggregate need for healthcare is fairly stable for the system.  But, for an individual the need is hugely variable — an auto accident is not predictable.  And, when disease strikes most of us can not afford the cost without insurance.  Statistics show 50% of Americans do not have access to $4oo for an emergency.  The very people who don’t have emergency funds are the very people who do not want to purchase health insurance.  Sadly, those people end up in bankruptcy while the system grudgingly provides the care.  Now that more people have insurance those without may find less compassion from the providers.  Many feel there are freeloaders in the system — people who do not contribute.  Does a birth defect, mental illness or low IQ make people freeloaders — that’s an ethical question which is beyond the scope of this discussion.
  4. Waste.  In monetary terms this about $1.5 trillion dollars per year with a huge death toll in the US.  A hospital acquired infection is very expensive and kills many of those affected.  The high profile infections from spinal injections are just the tip of the iceberg, again.  Re-hospitalization for an unresolved health problem is another example.  Paying $800 for a $10 epinephrine injector is another example.
  5. The results.  We want those good results.  Not just for cancer patients, not just for heart attack victims, not just for you, but for me too.   We don’t want promises, we want results.  In this age of smart phones and millions of apps there is no excuse for failing to have the data to prove the system is working in our hands every day.  We want the results today, not after several years of scrubbing the data in some moldy university.  We all must keep our eyes on the results and hold our elected officials accountable.

Complexity.   Medicine is a science and by its nature is very complex.  Open heart surgery is a good example — there are few people who understand the issues involved.  But, the system, from the patient’s view does not need to be complex.  In one country the cost of hospitalization is $400/day — the people there know exactly how much the illness will cost.  In another country, the prices of office visits are posted in the waiting room — it does not matter what insurance company you might have.   In another country all the providers use the same medical record system — not a big deal to move or see a consultant.  We seem to tolerate the complexity of our system and think it should be as difficult to understand as heart surgery.

The US pays about twice what other countries do for similar or better care.  There is enough money in our system now.   Our problem seems to be in the area of wasted money and effort.  It seems unlikely that just reducing payments to providers will reduce errors and wasted money — this supply-side economics does not get to the real problem.  More than likely, lower payment to providers will only result in lower income for them and perhaps more errors and unnecessary services.  But, if it works, do it.

Back to the initial warning.  Keep you eyes on the results of the system and the cost.  Whether any economic hypothesis proves correct is irrelevant.  What matters is the system must move in the right direction, always.

There is a lot to recommend the quality improvement method called “Plan – Do – Study -Act” or PDSA.  The idea is to plan a change to a system of care,  do the plan, make measurements to study the results then act to change the system to get better results.  This is an ongoing process.  Congress seems to be mired in a system of management which is one hundred years out of date — if anything, that’s what needs to change first.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Emergency General Surgery — dangerous and expensive

viewinsideabdomenEmergency general surgery (EGS) is common in the United States.  11% of surgical admissions require emergency surgery.  The statistics on EGS seem to create more questions than they answer:

  • The 11% of surgerys classified as EGS are associated with 50% of all surgical deaths.
  • Poor people who have EGS have a greater risk of death than average
  • Rich people who have EGS have a lower risk of death than average
  • Seven surgeries (removing part of the colon, removing part of the small-bowel, removing the gallbladder, operations related to peptic ulcer disease, removing abdominal adhesions, appendectomy and other operations to open the abdomen) accounted for 80% of the deaths and hospital costs related to EGS.
  • The cost of ECS in the U.S. is about 7 billion dollars per year.
  • EGS patients admitted by a surgeon have lower hospital costs than those admitted by a hospitalist.
  • Specific quality guidelines for ECS do not exist.

One might be tempted to say the diagnosis is so complicated nothing could improve the situation for patients.  However, this would be like the situation for pilots and passengers 30 years ago when major airliner accidents happened at least once a year.  The quality movement swept over the airline industry which is now is rated as one of the safest of complex human endeavors.  Those same measures need to be applied to EGS.

When an airplane has an emergency the crew pulls together and acts as a team.  They follow a procedure practiced many times.  They have simulators and tests.  If an engine fails, if there is a fire, if a landing gear fails there’s a procedure to follow.  Each pilot does not invent a procedure just because they are the pilot that day. Likewise, every surgeon should not invent a procedure just because they are the surgeon that day.

It would be easy to blame surgeons or the patients themselves for such dismal outcomes.  But, as people in the quality improvement department say:

IT’S NOT THE PEOPLE, IT’S THE PROCESS.

The first step is to acknowledge EGS is a process.  When a patient arrives in the emergency room with abdominal pain, low blood pressure, free air in the abdomen and a high white blood count there should be no barriers to evaluation an treatment.

  1. The goal is to have the patient in the operating room within 90 minutes from  crossing the ER threshold (T).
  2. Blood tests and CT scan of the abdomen are done by T+ 20 minutes.
  3. Surgeon is in the ER to evaluate the patient by T + 30 minutes
  4. A decision for operation is made by T + 45 minutes.
  5. Pre-op antibiotics, fluids, and pressors are started as needed.
  6. Anesthesiologist begins care of the patient in the ER by T + 60 minutes.
  7. Central line is inserted, operating room is notified, ICU is notified, critical care team is notified by T+75 minutes.
  8. Patient is transported to the operating room.  The opening incision is made by T + 90 minutes.

Such a process is obviously difficult.  First, the ambulance crew can not transport a patient with an abdominal emergency to a facility unable to deal with the problem, like a small rural hospital or an urban community ER.  This will require training of the ambulance crews and communication with a high level ER.

General surgeons and back-up general surgeons must be available within 30 minutes.  It’s a difficult life to be immediately available — the hospital is responsible to either pay surgeons to be on-call or to hire surgeons to stay in the facility.  Hospitalists are not an appropriate substitute to deal with an acute abdomen or even severe abdominal pain of uncertain cause.  A helicopter ride to a higher level facility is the best solution for patients with severe abdominal pain entering a facility not capable of following the above protocol.  The crazy practice of having a night-time hospitalist admit a critical surgical patient for a surgeon to see “in the morning” must come to an end.

Since the mortality rate of EGS patients is quite high the intensive care unit is the place they should go after surgery even if they seem stable in the operating room.  Complications are very common so early recognition and treatment is essential.  Returning to the operating room later may be needed and should not delayed.  Critical care consultation should be strongly considered.  Multidisciplinary rounding with critical care specialists, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, and social workers is strongly advised.  Rushing to get the patient out of the hospital to a secondary level of care is a mistake since re-admission is fairly common.  The patient needs to be as stable as possible before discharge.  Hospitalization for 1 – 2 weeks is not uncommon.

The difference in outcome of EGS between rich and poor is not uncommon for many things in medicine and surgery.  Several factors are at play but probably the biggest is fear of big medical bills — if you can’t pay one would wait till the last moment.  Second, medical literacy — always a bigger problem for lower socioeconomic groups — if you think Tums or Rolaids will fix anything you might wait too long to go for help.  Finally, a negative bias toward Medicaid or “cash” patients — sometimes the finances determine whether a hospital will keep or transfer patients.  At midnight many cases seem to be too “hard” and must be sent to a referral hospital which wastes valuable time.

Since prospective research is difficult and time consuming (taking years or decades) a local and national registry should be utilized.  The diagnosis, the surgical approach and the outcome must be tracked to find the best combinations for the best outcome.  As best practices are identified surgeons and hospitals must quickly change protocols and surgical techniques.  U.S. healthcare can not stand the usual 15 years needed to implement new practices.

References:

If any nurse out there has a standard order-set for EGS please share it.

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Hip Replacement — the engineer as a patient

artificial_hipPeople from all walks of life undergo hip replacement surgery.  Some of those people are engineers — people who design things, build things, and worry about the materials for manufacturing.  Those pesky engineers want information about hip surgery the average person might find boring but the engineer finds comforting.  So this guide is for the engineer who needs to have a hip replaced, not the engineer who actually makes the parts.

Original Equipment Failure.  The original specifications for the hip joint were not provided.  It seems there is a lot of variation from person to person.  Some hips last a lifetime, others do not.  The cause of hip failure mostly seems to be the result of gradual wear of the cartilage bearing surfaces within the large ball and socket joint that is our hip.  When the cartilage is so worn the underlying bone is exposed the joint fails with pain, inflammation and restriction of motion.  The time-course of joint failure can be sudden, but usually it is prolonged over many years with increasing symptoms of pain and loss of function.

Timing of Replacement:  The joint should be replaced when the joint function is causing unacceptable limitation of activity.  The time from initial symptoms until replacement is variable ranging from a couple of years to a decade.  There can be complications of surgery (including death) so jumping into surgery before it’s needed is a bad idea.

Expert Advice:  Orthopedic surgeons who specialize in large joint replacement are the experts.  They use a combination of examination and x-rays to give an assessment of the joint.  A good surgeon will never say you must have surgery — they always leave the decision to the patient.  Sometimes that attitude is disconcerting but actually is very reasonable.  After surgery, neither you or the surgeon want to say “I wish I had waited.”

Method of Replacement:  Special tools and jigs are provided by each manufacturer of  artificial hip systems.  Often, a hospital will limit the options to one manufacturer for obvious cost and storage reasons.  A sterile four-part hip replacement is selected:  1) the acetabular cup  2) the liner for the cup  2) the ball and 3) the femoral stem.  When the parts are ready the surgeon must cut into the thigh, visualize the hip joint, remove (with a saw) the ball from the top of the femur bone, ream out the inside of the femur and press fit a stem into the femur.  Then, the natural socket is removed (with a grinder) and the metal cup is inserted (often fastened with screws).  The liner is snapped into the cup (the socket of the joint).  The ball is pressed on top of the stem. Finally the ball is eased into the liner.  The surgeon sutures the various layers of the incision closed.  The final layer, the skin, is closed with staples.  A sterile dressing is applied over the incision.

Options:

Surgical Incision: Each surgeon has their favorite: anterior (in front of the joint), lateral (the side of the joint) or the posterior-lateral (the side of the joint toward the back).   The lateral incision technique was developed first so many surgeons use that method.  Surgeons trained within the past 10 years may have experience with the anterior approach.  The anterior approach seems to result in a quicker recovery and less discomfort.

Metal parts:  Stainless steel was used in the past but fell out of favor because tiny amounts the cobalt and chromium in the steel could be absorbed by the body and cause undesirable side-effects.  Now, metal parts are constructed with either titanium or zirconium.  Also, the newer materials are slightly more flexible than steel, spreading stress to the bones more evenly.

Acetabular cup:  A metal part that fits into the pelvic bone where the natural joint socket was located.  The side that touches the bone is rough.  There are holes through the cup for screws to attach it to the bone.  The other side is where the liner snaps into position.  

Liner for the cup:  This is one of the bearing surfaces in the joint.  Older liners were made of simple polyethylene plastic.  Excessive wear was a problem for some patients.  Now, the most popular liner is a special polyethylene treated with radiation to result in a highly cross-linked material that is much more durable.  Polyethylene also provides some shock resistance.  Some companies make a ceramic liner, but because of the concave geometry (fracture risk), the brittle nature of the material and the tendency to squeak it is not requested as often, but it is very wear resistant.  People in their 40’s and 50’s might want the extreme wear resistance of the ceramic liner just to avoid a repeat surgery 20 or 30 years later.

Ball: The most wear-resistant material is ceramic.  Because of the spherical shape of the ball a fracture of this ceramic part is less likely than for a ceramic liner.  Ceramic balls are becoming a standard.  Nitride coated zirconium is also an option for the ball but it not as wear resistant as the ceramic.

Stem:  This is the part that is wedge-fit into the thigh bone called the femur.  It is tapered and has a rough finish.  The tool kit for the system includes several test-fit rods to make sure the reaming of the femur is exactly the size needed.  Once the fit is adequate the stem is seated in the bone with a tap from a malet.  The ball is press fit on the other end of the stem.  The ball may be an integral part of the stem in some systems.

Attachment:  Metal parts pressed against bone need to stay in position for a long time.  If a patient has healthy bone the most desirable solution is a special coating on the metal that provides a rough surface for the bone to grow into.  Titanium parts can be plasma sprayed with pure titanium as one method to obtain a rough surface.  Another method is to bind a bony material called hydroxyapatite to the metal surface.  The alternative method, for people with weak bones, is polymethyl methacrylate glue.

Anesthesia:  A short stay in the hospital is desirable to reduce exposure to germs that are resistant to antibiotics.  Effective anesthesia with good pain control after surgery make shorter stays possible.  A favorite is spinal anesthesia (makes the body numb below the waist for a couple of hours) along with a sedative, like propofol which has few side-effects.  Of course, a few injections of pain medication and pain pills are needed.  For reasonably healthy people just an overnight stay is all that is needed.

Prevention of Complications:  The surgical technique, the anesthesia, and the materials in the artificial hip all are designed to minimize complications.  Two feared complications are infection and blood clots — both of which can be fatal in extreme cases.  An infusion of an antibiotic within two hours of surgery helps to reduce infection.  Pneumatic compression stockings or “boots” help to reduce blood clots during surgery.  After surgery, maintaining activity with frequent walking reduces the risk of clots.  Some surgeons add a low-dose aspirin to reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke.  Constipation is a common complication easily prevented with prunes, stool softener or a mild laxative.

Comment:  If you are an engineer or just someone who wanted additional detail hopefully this summary is helpful.  There is a lot of information available on the Internet but it is always difficult to understand medical jargon.  Out-of-date information can be really confusing.  Of course, your surgeon is always happy to answer questions — write down the questions and take them with you to your appointment.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Do Hospital Amenities Impact Quality Care?

Acccrystalchandelierording to a study at Johns Hopkins (2/1/15) improving hospital amenities improve patient satisfaction with the facility but otherwise do not improve satisfaction with care.  This is important for two reasons:

  1. Patients really can tell the difference — a crystal chandelier hanging in the hospital room does not make nursing care better!
  2. Patient satisfaction measurement is a powerful tool to assess medical care — if the patient’s expectations are met, it is likely good care is delivered.

The tremendous building boom for hospitals is strange given this bit of science  — are CEOs trying to improve quality by remodeling?   Now it seems clear CEOs should focus money and energy on improving hospital quality until the level of quality is very high then if there is money to spare consider improving the physical amenities.

Increasing the distance a nurse must walk to see patients results in decreasing nursing visits.  This seems simple enough, but the current trend in hospital remodeling is to eliminate rooms with multiple patients.  The trend reduces RN visits, increases the need for nursing assistants, increases hospital cost and may increase falls for elderly patients.

The hospital that looks like a nice hotel seems to be the desire of hospital CEOs.  This may be fine for obstetrics but may be wrong for geriatrics.   A multi-bed ward with 4 patients allows one nurse to check on 4 patients quickly.  4 times the number of nursing visits makes it much easier to prevent falls.  When nurses still wore those pointy white hats they had this figured out.

Progress marches on.  American health care quality is as low as many 3rd world countries but at least we have nice surroundings in which to suffer the complications.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Hospitals fail to stop IV fluids for CHF — poor quality care

ivfluidsHospitals are responsible to rescue patients from inappropriate treatment — especially when the need to intervene is obvious.   The hospital has a board of directors responsible for the care delivered in a hospital. They hire the CEO who hires a quality manager.  When bad quality management hurts or kills patients it is the hospital’s fault.

An article by Dr. Behnood Bikdeli and colleagues (JCHF. 2015;3(2):127-133) describes a huge study at 346 hospitals about treatment of patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).   Here is the essence:

  • CHF is life-threatening condition where the body collects too much fluid, usually due to a weak heart.  The fluid gets into the lungs and causes shortness of breath.
  • The treatment for CHF is to remove fluid from the body and give medications to improve heart and kidney function.
  • The absolutely wrong thing to do is to give extra fluid by the veins.
  • The study found about 12% of patients with CHF were treated with 1 to 2 liters of fluid in the veins during the first 2 days of hospitalization.  AND, most alarming, compared to similar patients not treated this way, they were more likely to end up in intensive care or die.
  • The most telling statistic is how often various hospitals let this dangerous use of intravenous fluid happen:  0% to 71%.  This means some hospitals did not let it happen (0%).  Some hospitals let it happen a lot (71%) — just hope your grandmother did not go to that hospital!

It is not rocket science to say fluid overload is not treated with extra fluid.  This is easy to detect when the admitting diagnosis is CHF and the doctor orders say “NS IV at TKO” (translation:  give salt water in the veins at a rate to make sure the veins stay open).  NO NO NO the patient does not need extra fluid.  This should not happen and there are lots of ways to prevent it or even rescue patients when Dr Welby writes such an order (or tries to use leaches).

Solutions:

  1. Mandate doctors use standard orders for treatment of CHF — there is plenty of latitude to customize such orders.  But, IV fluid is not one of the choices without stating why.
  2. Educate staff that IV fluid is not required to admit a patient (an old fashioned insurance rule).
  3. Educate staff that IV fluid is not a cure-all.  Fluid would help a dehydrated patient but not others.
  4. Nurses do a double check before admitting a patient from the ER with the question:  does this patient have CHF and an order for IV fluids — if so, call the physician to clarify the situation or to change the order — no clarity=no admit.
  5. All CHF patients should be weighed daily — if the weight is going up it means more fluid is being retained — the patient needs to be rescued.  Fix the problem or find someone who can, NOW.

Attention patient and family.  This is easy to spot.  The admitting doctor says the diagnosis is congestive heart failure but you see IV fluids being pumped into yourself or your family member.  SPEAK UP!  “Why is fluid treatment needed?”  do not accept the answer of “everybody gets an IV”.

Attention hospital board members:  do you know what your hospital is doing to prevent this obvious problem?  Quality is your responsibility, you must do something besides listen to financial statements.  Is your hospital the one with 0% or 71% record of treating CHF with IV fluids?

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

It’s Your Life at Stake in the Hospital — speak up

cc-speakup

Hospitalization is dangerous because of your illness and because poor communication increases the risks.  The simple fact is:  patients who speak up get better care than those who are quiet and unassuming.  As Gomer Pile’s sergeant would say:  I CAN’T HEAR YOU!

A recent article in Consumer Reports (CR) February 2015 “How Not to Get Sick(er) in the Hospital” puts a focus on communication in the hospital and is worth reading.

CR makes some good points:

  • You should be treated as a partner with the health care team.  As a partner you should expect explanations in language you can understand.  You should expect to know the plan, when and why tests are done and what results mean.  If x-rays or blood tests are done ask the doctor “what was the result”.
  • You should not be a silent partner.  If you are not getting information or do not understand what is going on you are risking your life.  Be courteous but speak up and ask questions and get ANSWERS not platitudes like “you just need some rest”.  Reasonable questions are things like:  “why do I need a CT scan”, “why am I in intensive care”, “why do I have a fever”, “what did you find during surgery”?
  • The doctors or physician assistants (PA) or nurse practitioners (NP) are in charge — the nurses are not.  If you have questions about medical or surgical issues insist on talking the doctor or PA or NP.  If you need an extra pillow or help getting to the bathroom talk to the nurse.  If you ask your nurse about the result of a test expect a vague answer “it’s just fine, get some rest.”  However, the nurses know what medications have been ordered and what is available “if needed or PRN”.  If you have a headache ask “what has the doctor ordered in case I have a headache”?  “nothing — well please call the doctor now since I have a headache”.
  • You need “your people with you”.  Family or friends should be present as much as possible and they should make contact with the health care providers both doctors and nurses — at very least each time they visit they should introduce themselves to the RN at the desk to see how things are going.
  • Who is available day and night?  It is a very reasonable request to know the name of the nurse in charge or the name of the doctor on call and to have them contacted if there is a problem.   If you are under the care of Hospitalists they are in the hospital 24/7 so it is very reasonable to request to talk to one of them at any time if needed — even on the phone, if that is adequate.  “They are busy” is sometimes true but not for hours at a time.  The nuclear option is to ask to speak to the “hospital administrator on call”  — a request that always gets their attention.
  • In any healthcare setting:  you are not out of line to point out that a doctor, nurse or therapist failed to wash hands or use hand sanitizer.  “Please wash your hands”. You do not want germs from other patients brought to you on caregiver hands.
  • Doctors will spend more time with you and answer more questions if they are comfortable — ask them to “have a seat”.  A room with no seats is unacceptable — that, you can tell your nurse.
  • Choose the right hospital in the first place.  Check the ratings of hospitals on the CMS website called “Hospital Compare”.  Driving a hour to a better hospital is absolutely worth your time and may save your life.  This is not like going to a fast food restaurant.  At this point in 2015 there is still a huge difference between hospitals — advertisements do not  mean a hospital is good.
  • Keep a written record — if you have a test write it down and leave a blank to fill in the result.  You really don’t need all the details — “you had a blood count and it was normal” is a fine answer.  If asked about your notes just say you have some difficulty keeping track of what is going on since you don’t feel the best — if you felt your best you would not be in the hospital!

, , , , , , ,

2 Comments