Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hospital cost containment leaves people barefoot with bad breath

At a hospital nearby the new patient's automatic package of freebies apparently has been cut  and I applaud this cost saving measure.  Or maybe they just ran out?

The requisite plastic basin, bedpan, cups, kidney dishes all in hideous matching pink, etc were a useless recycling nightmare.  But there are some notable and useful exceptions ->>>  toothpaste, toothbrushes, and those nonskid slippersocks

When a relative of mine was there this week, she and her various roommates were asked to walk barefoot on hospital floors. After her second night in the hospital she asked for a third time for a pair because her feet were cold and was finally given one. We would have brought slippers in - if we had only been told this was no longer a policy to distribute nonskid slipper-socks to all patients.

In the hospital people leak and staff steps in it. People bleed, puke, have diarrhea, urinate, ooze all sorts of pus which is dabbed at which things that wind up on the floor. Relatives also track in stuff from the street to mix with all of this. Walking barefoot, even on a freshly mopped hospital floor is nuts. (Have you ever looked in a mop  bucket?)  Of course maybe the socks just hold icky stuff close to your feet and carry it into bed with you. No rationale for or against the socks was given.

In addition she went two days without brushing her teeth - we would have gladly provided a brush and paste if we only knew the hospital no longer did.  Dear local hospital -- if you are not going to provide these items - we understand ---BUT YOU NEED TO TELL PEOPLE. Or maybe if she had asked these would have been forthcoming as well. Maybe this is the Don't Ask, Don't Get policy. Fair enough. Just tell us.  Of course some things you ask for and do not get. My relative, whose chart contains a whole era of syncope due to dehydration, asked six times for  water until she got some. This might be the result of understaffing.... But it is a problem....

There were other changes from my relatives multiple previous visits over the last ten years. The method of re-situating people in a hospital bed has changed.  There used to be an extra sheet under the torso, nurses could each grab a side and heave without touching the patient. They have reverted to dragging them by the armpits and asking them to hitch up while pushing - which is sort of futile without nonskid slipper socks.  Another reason to keep the socks. I guess the extra linen was too expensive.

Something happened that has never happened before to us in many life-saving trips - a near miss at a wrong IV treatment.  A person appeared at my relatives bedside early in the morning and said "I have your sugar."  This is my relative who cannot take statins and whose triglycderides are already stellar.  My relative who is not diabetic.  If she hadn't been awake and alert  or hadn't the presense of mind to argue that she didn't get sugar and had never had it before - the drip would have been attached to the pre-installed just-in-case IV Shunt.  No name checking, no order checking, just fill -er up and hurry off to the next mistake.

Another thing was going on - rooms I noticed were being scrubbed out by people in disposable blue suits.  My relative was not allowed to use the bathroom in the second room she was in (which is why she was asking for water)  --  and she believes that was because the rooms other occupant was contagious and was already using it.   The doctors who visited this patient spoke to her with masks on....  One can only imagine-  and still they were all walking barefoot.  It makes you wonder for sure.

I will give kudus for niceness. People were very pleasant.  And to the transport people who repeatedly asked for names and dates of birth to make sure they were wisking away the right patient. Of course this is academic for me, as this hospital which is a three minute drive from where I live will not take my Charter Oak Insuranse. I have to drive to Waterbury, Hartford or New Haven. After this recent encounter -  I don't really mind.