Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Healthcare in the US by Marta G.

The world is growing cold. The snow storms are not just in the weather, but in the human heart. 

My husband (let's call him Joe Nurse), has been a travel nurse since 2001. We have been all over the United States and abroad having three month to a year contracts all over the east and west coasts, as well as the south. Something has really changed in the US medical field in the past few years. Many blame it on Obamacare, which may have something to do with it. But it goes way deeper. Something has left the hospital--and the best way to describe it, is care. 

My husband, Joe Nurse, has seen the almost complete collapse of professionalism in the healthcare industry. Young immature new nurses who act like they are working for a fast food restaurant, texting their friends and talking to other nurses about their private lives as they are taking care of the patients. Cold hospital systems that only care about the financial profits of the hospitals. Insurance agencies setting the standard for how much care a patient will receive. Doctors threatened so strongly by lawsuits that they will literally do what is in their own best interest rather than protect the patient. 

Let me tell you what happened to Joe Nurse in the last couple of weeks. Do not think that this story is rare or remote. This is just a sample of what is happening daily in hospitals near you. 

Joe Nurse, currently on a 3-month contract in a hospital on the east coast, was given a patient who had a central line. (A central line is an IV that is put in a large vein on the side of one's neck while in the hospital so that the nurse doesn't have to keep sticking a person. The nurse can give medications and get blood from it.) 

Something was wrong with the central line. When 
Joe checked the central line with a pressure valve it was five times the normal rate of pressure. (No, I have no idea what that means either, but it's not good.) So Joe kept trying to convince the anesthesiologist who put in the line to come and check it. The chest X-ray--they had already done didn't look good. But no one was taking responsibility for it and dealing with it. 

For days Joe bugged the head nurse and the doctors on staff that this was a problem, but the anesthesiologist kept telling Joe he would come later. Two days passed and my husband made a stink about it and told the pulmonologist to look on the cat-scan they had already done on the on the patient's chest, but to look specifically at where they put the central line in. He had never done this before and thought this a genius idea. (And later would prove to have saved the patient's life.)

So when the pulmonologist saw the results of the cat-scan, he turned white. 

The anesthesiologist had accidentally put the central line directly into the patient's aorta (his heart). This could have killed the patient. He was on high doses of heparin--and even the slightest knick in his heart from the central line moving around could have caused him to bleed to death. (Among other things!)

Accidents happen, but the anesthesiologist should have immediately taken care of this within hours of putting it in. Joe Nurse had been sounding the alarm for three days and the anesthesiologist had done nothing. In fact, no one had done anything. This was gross negligence. 

When the staff heard about the mistake the anesthesiologist made, everyone on he floor knew that this was a huge potential lawsuit. So everyone was immediately backing off, so they wouldn't be a part of this guy's healthcare "team." Everyone's tone went to whispers.

Rumors immediately began that someone was going to get the axe for this to safe face so that the hospital could say they "took care of it." But everyone knew it wouldn't be the anesthesiologist. 

A few days later a former nurse who was now from corporate (not the specific hospital, but the healthcare system--corporate headquarters) suddenly showed up and started shadowing Joe Nurse. 

One patient, Joe had on that day, was a shackled (four-point) prisoner who had two body guards. This guy was huge and was a "berserker." He would pretend to be sedated and when Joe would come near him he would become violent and once even grabbed Joe's wrist-even though he was handcuffed. 

Because the guy's handcuffs were too small for his wrist, each time the guy thrashed around and tried to get out, he would rub his wrists. So the doctor ordered the patient to be sedated so he wouldn't hurt himself. Because of this, occasionally Joe needed to go in and wake the patient up and make sure he was okay by asking him or her questions. Joe had just earlier done this and the patient was extremely violent, but he did answer all the questions correctly. 

The corporate lady shadowing Joe came in and grabbed the patient's chart. She looked at the prisoner's wrists and asked why they weren't padded. But there was no room to pad them. The doctor had hoped sedating him would keep him from making things worse. She demanded Joe pad the cuffs, so he did. (And they had to go get special pads to prevent cutting off the patient's circulation to his hand. But remember the doctor did not order this procedure--the corporate lady did!) 

Then she asked him why he had checked the box on his chart that said he was responsive. He told her a few minutes ago they had gone through the questions with the patient had gotten them all correct. 

The lady abruptly left and was not seen again. 

The next night Joe received a call from the hospital, but he couldn't get to it, no message was left. 

The next day, as we were driving into the parking lot of the hotel for my son's wedding, the hospital called again and told Joe that his contract was cancelled. He didn't understand what that meant. Was he fired? They emphasized very strongly that they were "not going to continue the contract" and did not indicate that he was fired. We couldn't believe it. Joe wanted answers so he began calling people from his agency to find out what was going on. 

The agency's policy is that when you are finished with a contract you have 48 hours to leave the apartment. This is standard to the nursing agency industry and we have done this for almost fifteen years. However, we were three hours from our apartment at our son's wedding. And that would mean we would be having to leave our apartment during the wedding! So we put in for an extension to leave. Immediately upon settling our stuff in the hotel, we got on our knees and just cried out to the Lord. What on earth! 

There is so much more to the story, but for the sake of sticking to the subject of hospital care--we did get the extension, so we didn't have to leave our son's wedding and go vacate our apartment. 

And we did hear the the complaint that led the hospital to cancel the contract. The corporate lady who shadowed Joe, said that the prisoner was unresponsive and that Joe had checked the box that said he was responsive. (Now keep in mind that this lady had been a nurse but wasn't at the time and she did not do an assessment on the patient but only came in for sixty seconds before making this "pronouncement." And also keep in mind that the doctor had ordered the patient be sedated because of his violence towards the nursing staff.) 

Joe's travel agency said that was a totally bogus excuse to cancel and that it wasn't even going to be put on his record. That was worthy of a conversation of clarification, but not even a warning or a write-up. No, this had to be something else. However, since the hospital had to have a reason to break the contract, the hospital would use it. What is interesting is that the hospital had just re-signed Joe for another contract saying he was a great nurse. 

Everyone knows. Every nurse on that floor, every doctor and everyone at corporate knows that Joe's contract was cancelled to get him out of the way--and as a fall guy--for the anesthesiologist. 

This is common folks. Very common in healthcare.

When Jesus said the root of all evil was money, this is what He was referring to. It's all about the lawyers making money, the insurance companies making money, the hospitals making money, the doctors keeping their jobs for money, the patient finding a way to sue the hospital for money. 

The healthcare system in the US is no more about patient care; it is about healthcare systems paying huge bonus's to its doctors and executives.  

No comments: