Advocacy for a Loved One: Part 2

Have you needed to stay at a hospital in the last five years?

Believe it or not, they are not in business to care for sick people. Pretty ironic, huh? I think if Americans were asked what hospitals were for, they would resoundingly answer to take care of people who are ill. So where is the disconnect?

Registered Nurses are completely outnumbered by patients at hospitals. In busy hospitals, their assistance is limited to doing vitals, giving prescriptions, performing routine medical assistance, and emergencies.

The Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) are assigned the dirtier work, but there isn’t a button for a patient to call a CNA instead of an RN.  I am a fall-risk patient which means an alarm goes off if I use the toilet or sink independently. When I don’t have an advocate to walk out to the nursing station to find assistance, I irritate the RN’s with requests to help me ambulate safely.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

The Certified Medication Aide (CMA) only visit patients twice a shift. If you need a medication between the shifts, you won’t get it. Unless you have an advocate pushing nurses to call doctors, you will suffer.

As an advocate, you should know what prescriptions the hospital will not administer to your loved one.

Children’s hospitals are super successful due to their superior communication system. The doctors and therapists communicate with each other and parents directly at a team meeting. Then the patient isn’t exposed to more harmful treatments than she/he can tolerate.

Doctors do not develop individual patient plans together for adults with chronic conditions. An advocate helps adult patients remember specifics so that specialists or emergency staff do not accidentally cause harm.

Insurance companies refuse admission to patients when they are in dire need. Of course, it may be that only low-income patients face this problem. When I had excellent insurance, a suburban hospital admitted me for kidney stone surgery in the middle of the night. They gave me morphine for the pain while we waited for a urologist to come to work.

When I need emergency surgery now, my treatment is vastly different. The metropolitan hospital that accepts Medicaid and Medicare won’t admit me or give me pain medication while I wait for a surgeon.  I’ve endured days of pain when they sent me home instead of rushing me into surgery. Before they admitted me, my kidneys started bleeding from multiple stones. When I go to the ER with an advocate, I am not left unattended for hours in the hallway on a gurney.

If all else fails, every hospital has a patient relations department. They work during the daytime. You may have to demand the hospital send a patient relations advocate to resolve more serious care concerns.

From the above, you might think I don’t like nurses or doctors.  The truth is- I know some wonderful nurses, therapists, and doctors. Some have saved my life. Their career intentions are often hijacked by hospital management, insurance companies, and exhaustion.

Before your next hospitalization, you might want to share the highlights of this post and  Family Advocating for Family Part 1.