Hospital Discharge: Could it be a bit more hospitable?

I may be one of the few people on the planet who invested my second language studies in Latin. And yes, it probably would have been more practical to study a language people actually speak!

While having a working knowledge of Latin has been helpful for crossword puzzles, at other times my intellectual curiosity simply gets the best of me. A recent call about a hospital discharge experience piqued my curiosity about where the words “hospital” and “patient” and come from. Hospital comes from the Latin word “hospes,” which essentially means a guest or stranger. It’s also the root for words like hostel, and hospitality. “Patient” comes from the Latin word “patior,” to suffer. So from these Latin roots it’s easy to understand why we might consider hospitals to be “a special place of care for guests/strangers who are suffering.” read more

Is that what I said? That’s not what I meant! Now what? Part 2

You took the time to prepare for your visit with your doctor. You asked your doctor to explain her observations with words you understand, you told her what you thought you heard, and she confirmed it.

You request a copy of you medical record or log onto your patient portal a few days later, and read your doctor’s notes. You see an error, maybe your birthdate or your medications are wrong, or there’s something there you know you didn’t say, or the doctor didn’t say to you. And now it’s there in back and white. read more

Is That What I said? That’s not what I meant!

You might remember a children’s game from long ago called “Telephone:” Someone thought of a message and whispered it to the person next to them, who whispered it to the person next to them and so on. The last person would repeat what they heard out loud and it was always met with giggles and shouts because it rarely bore any resemblance to the initial message.

In effect any time we share information, there are two things in play: not just what we say, but also how the listener hears/interprets it. In theory it’s the responsibility of both parties to make sure that “communication,” a shared understanding, has occurred, but in the case of giving our medical history there are some very real barriers to that happening. read more

Emergency

Emergency. Dictionary.com defines it this way: “a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence or occasion requiring immediate action. “

In my healthcare experience lifetime, perhaps nothing has changed more than the role of the hospital emergency room. In my youth the hospital had two roles: caring for very ill or post-surgery patients needing nursing care until they could be released home, and attending to accidents (think someone getting their hand injured by machinery or being in an auto accident).

As a variety of things have changed in our healthcare system over the years, there are some common beliefs about emergency rooms that we should take a closer look at. read more

Your Decisions Matter… Or Do They?

Healthcare Directives and Planning

The call came late on a Thursday. The husband of a long married couple had suffered a stroke 2 weeks earlier. He had lost the ability to swallow and the doctor at the hospital had urged surgery to place a feeding tube directly to his stomach before transferring him to a skilled nursing facility, where it was expected he would remain for the rest of his life.

By his wife’s report, she didn’t feel she had been given an option; the doctor simply told them this was the next step in his care so he could be discharged from the hospital. Now in the skilled nursing facility she had time to see the situation more clearly and realized this wasn’t what her husband had told her he wanted if he was in this situation. read more

Patient-centered care – you may need a buddy!

Buddies

A friend of mine was undergoing an outpatient surgery a few weeks ago. Once in a gown, and her IV started (not a power position for us as patients, by the way!) her surgeon stopped in before heading to the OR to scrub. Having already talked with the anesthesiologist, my friend also shared her concern with her surgeon that she has had really severe nausea with codeine-based pain relievers after surgery (I mean really awful – I’ve been there!) with me nodding along vigorously and asked for different post-op medication. Her young-ish (to us, anyway!) surgeon was patient and gracious in responding that all narcotic pain relievers cause stomach upset and she would provide an anti-nausea medication to take along with the codeine-based drug she preferred to prescribe. Before my friend could share that that she’d had anti-nausea medication before and it wasn’t particularly effective, the surgeon exited stage left to prep for surgery. read more