Real life situation. A person is ill and goes to the emergency room at a very well respected hospital. After several trips (being bounced between the patient’s general practitioner claiming the patient is too unstable to be seen in the office and the ER wanting the patient to be seen by primary care (playing “hot potato patient”) the ER personnel finally get proof the person is really very ill and needs inpatient medical care. Two doctors (specialists) want to admit. The family goes home, secure in the knowledge their loved one is being cared for.
The next day the hospitalist tells the sick person that because the ER can’t establish an IV that the person will be discharged – while still very ill with internal infections. And still in ER rather than on a medical wing, I might add.
Riddle me this – what is that hospitalist thinking? Because all the medical personnel in the hospital are too inept to start an IV line let’s put a sick person on the streets? That is certainly a unique solution to the problem of a sick patient with serious medical needs. Sort of reminds me of the hospitals that hire ambulances to dump patients near homeless shelters if they can’t pay for treatment.
Acting as patient advocate I went into the ER, saw the patient, got ahold of the head nurse, and announced that the patient is not leaving. The reason for discharge is spurious and the patient is very ill. I demand to speak to the hospitalist to see if she/he thinks the patient will go home and start an IV alone and then come back? I’m ready to go to the Director of the Hospital if need be. This person is NOT going home in this state.
Having thrown down the gauntlet … about ten minutes later a paramedic arrives and starts the IV in a couple of minutes. No problem. Paramedics can start lines in the back of a moving vehicle going over a bumpy road. Suddenly, the patient is going to be admitted. The hospitalist is now unavailable due to being in a “meeting.”
Now, imagine being Deaf or seriously hard of hearing. Imagine not understanding why you are being discharged when you are clearly ill and the problem is with the ability of the doctors and hospital to provide basic medical care. Starting an IV is not rocket science, even in a person with lousy veins. An Interpreter isn’t an advocate, they are merely there to interpret. Not everyone knows someone who has done patient advocacy and is tenacious in dealing with medical bureaucracy.
This should never happen to anyone – hearing or hard of hearing. I know that Deaf Inc. in Boston has good advocates who work there. I hope that in a case like this someone would know enough to call for help from Deaf Inc. or a similar agency.