Sunday, May 22, 2011

Home at Last

by Leann

My husband had major surgery a little over a week ago, and I have to say his hospital experience was far better than mine in 2008. That doesn't mean it was GOOD. Just better than horrendous.

I am a nurse who was trained in a hospital, so I guess I bring plenty of ideas about the right way to do things. You don't let IVs run completely out, for one thing. (Yup, that happened.) You make sure the epidural pain medicine is QUICKLY available. (They ran out and how hard would it have been to go down to the pharmacy and get the med rather than wait for a delivery? Had to get the nurse manager involved in that one.) And to allow tubing of any kind to lie on the floor is unacceptable. I don't care if it's catheter tubing or IV tubing, floors are dirty and those tubes connect to the body. No wonder there is such a rise in hospital infection rates. No one seems to pay attention to ALL the details of good nursing care.

Who knew that dressing changes for an incision are no longer sterile procedures--using sterile gloves and gauze, where gloves are changed after a dirty dressing is removed so germs are not transferred to the new dressing. That and catheter care are treated as "clean" procedures--no glove changes--but I'm not so sure that's a change I like or that it's being done correctly even being done as "clean" procedures. Again, look at infection rates and tell me that nurses are being trained in good, common sense techniques. I think not. I have never been more certain that if a loved one goes into a hospital these days, make sure someone is there who is unafraid to speak up to the staff AND to the (haughty) doctor. Just sayin'. Dealt with my share of doctors and I am not intimidated. I saved their butts on dumb or illegible orders more than once in my time on the hospital floor.

None of this is to say that I do not appreciate the kindnesses offered. Kind is good. The nurses my husband had were skilled to a point. And there were always people available to bug--which I did. They didn't mind. Drinks and snacks were in abundance, but of course not even part of the nurse's aide job to go and get. My patients always had fresh water on their stand. My husband wouldn't have had fresh water t if I wasn't there.

Instead, the staff spent 2-3 hours every shift writing notes on the computer. Back in the day, the entire shift was spent giving nursing care and notes were only done at the end. If I had to stay to finish my notes, I stayed. But interacting with my patients was more important than sitting at a desk typing. This is not to blame the nurses. I saw this coming a few years before I retired. Nurses want to give care first, not make sure the hospital doesn't get sued.

Now he is home. The surgery went well and his incision looks great, but then, he has his own nurse. Now ... if I could just get him to cough and deep breathe more ... yes, I am a pest! What about you? Have you seen the change in health care? And I mean the folks who actually should be spending an entire shift providing that care.