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The NSPA Blog

The Hospital “Slide”

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Posted on October 16th, 2017 by Teri Dreher, under Inspiring Stories, Medical Error, Senior Orphans, Tips & Resources

A Five Day Story

What about you has changed in the last five days? Lost a few pounds? Gone grocery shopping? Enjoyed a weekend activity? Five days doesn’t seem like very long, but in healthcare five days can bring incredible – or terrible – changes. Recently, an individual was admitted to the hospital with a urinary tract infection. He arrived from a rehabilitation facility where he received excellent care and healing from kidney disease. This relatively young man (73) expected to come in, be treated and released.  Within five days, the nurses were telling his family they should consider hospice. What happened in five days?

The Hospital “Slide” and Multiple Problems  

Before hospitalization he was walking, kidney failure was healing, slight redness on his bottom from lack of movement.  Five days pass and no one got the patient out of bed and into a chair.  He was too weak to sit on the edge of the bed without falling.  No physical therapy had started.  He complained his throat was so dry he could barely swallow. Antibiotics caused an explosive type of diarrhea hospitalized patients often get due to antibiotics and hospital related infection. Hospital induced sleep deprivation gave him “sleep deprivation psychosis”.  The slight redness on his bottom was now a Stage 3 full thickness bedsore.  Also, he could not remember day to day what was happening to him or where he was.  The hospital nurses called the family to inform them about their father’s decline and should they call in Palliative Care/Hospice.

Patient Advocacy

The situation above is a classic case hospital neglect. Patient’s admitted to the hospital are sick, don’t feel well, may be disoriented, frightened and confused.  They may need a lot of encouragement, motivation and support to get out of bed, move around, eat and bedside companionship.  The Dr. Marcus Welby days of primary care, where you see the same physician and nurses every day are gone.  Nowadays, it’s difficult for the rotating hospitalists and nursing staff to observe the progression of illness and healing.  They don’t have the time to get to know the patient and what is “normal”.  Hospital staff only also see a snapshot of what is presented to them and rarely get to see the whole movie.  When healthcare was less complicated and hurried, nurses had time to do the preventative work and educate, encourage and empower patients and families.

Solutions

Families are encouraged to have a visible presence every day while in the hospital.  Set up shifts if you can, solicit help from other family members, friends, volunteers.  Talk to all the doctors, communicate well with nurses, get results of tests and ask what they mean. Make sure your loved one gets out of bed at least three times a day and walks often. The hospital bed is not your friend!  You can get pneumonia, bedsores and weaker by each passing day.  Ask that your loved ones get at least six straight hours of sleep every night and at least one nap every day.  Ask if you can place a Patient Sleeping sign on the door.

We encourage more families advocate for common sense basics like these to prevent the all-too-common slide to death that we see too often.  This is what medical error/neglect looks like.

Happy Ending  

Fortunately, the patient has a professional RN advocate now. His family was not ready to give up and needed someone to help them fight for their father.  Our nurses know the questions to ask, the boundaries to set and what good healthcare looks like.  We ask the tough questions, in person, every day. The “slow slide” has stopped. For senior orphans and busy families, hiring a professional advocate can be a life changing expenditure.

This man simply wasn’t receiving the care he needed. Our nurse advocates were able to intervene quickly and saved this man’s life.  He’s now back at the rehab facility, infection free and healing.  His family is thrilled to have their father back!

For senior orphans and busy families, hiring a professional advocate may be the best solution.  In a perfect world, no patient would need a professional advocate, but the reality is that modern healthcare is changing, complex and fast paced.  Our healthcare system is flawed and far from perfect.  If you know someone who is falling through the cracks and doesn’t know where to turn, tell them about us. Our nurse advocates are ready to help them…or you!

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

For a no-cost 30 minute initial consultation, please call 847-612-6684 or click here to fill out our online callback request form.