My daughter Chelsea, age 19, was expecting her first child. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a kidney stone during her 5th month of pregnancy. Her physician decided to place a tube or stent, in her body to help the kidney stone escape. However, this type of stent should not be left in your body for long periods of time. Since Chelsea was 5 months pregnant and had 4 months to go, she knew she would have to have a second stent placed in her body prior to the birth of her child.
Now the downhill spiral begins! Tragically, after the second stent placement, and before the birth of her child, she was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI). Chelsea was placed on an anti-biotic. Chelsea’s infection continued. About 2 weeks later, Chelsea went into labor and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. While in the hospital, Chelsea had a low-grade fever. However, her fever broke; she stayed in the hospital for 3 days and was discharged to home with her new baby boy. As her mother, and of course as a nurse, I asked Chelsea if she had felt symptoms of pain, a burning sensation, pressure or discomfort while urinating. Chelsea stated, “Yes”, but since this was her first baby, she just thought it was the normal after birth discomfort and didn’t realize anything was wrong.
Chelsea, now home, was recovering from having her first baby and adjusting to having to care for her newborn son, was not feeling well, very busy and exhausted. On her third day home, she felt very ill. Chelsea woke up on day three with a fever, severe pain in her back and felt very nauseous and light-headed. I called to speak with her to see how she was doing. Chelsea’s boyfriend, Nick answered her cell phone and told me he was planning on taking her to the hospital. I received a call several hours later, from Nick, informing me that she was at the ER and asked me to come to the hospital. I immediately got ready and left the house headed for the hospital. When I arrived in the ER, I was mortified! Chelsea lying on a gurney in the ER, she was white as a ghost and hooked up to monitors which showed a blood pressure of 80/40. I was stunned! Was this my daughter that just a few days ago gave birth to my grandson, smiling and proud as can be? I didn’t even recognize her. . Was this Chelsea? Oh my god, this was my daughter. I immediately requested to speak with the ER doctor. The ER doctor came in approximately 15 minutes later, after I walked out into the hallway repeatedly demanding an explanation as to the condition of my daughter. Once the ER doctor came into the area where Chelsea was, she began to tell me that Chelsea was in septic shock and that they weren’t sure whether her infection was coming from the kidney or if maybe material had been left in her uterus from childbirth. Of course, I was shocked. How could this happen? She was just in the hospital giving birth and seemed so healthy and happy. Was she discharged in good health or did the hospital miss something?
More importantly, what was being done at that very moment for my daughter in her current condition? Surprisingly, the ER doctor didn’t have a specific plan. She had an attitude of being very lackadaisical about my daughter’s condition. So, I asked to speak with the Nephrologist on staff. The ER doctor said the Nephrologist, was in to see Chelsea about an hour or so ago and the physician had gone home. The ER doctor, looked at me and said, “Do you see what time it is?” I looked at the clock, as if it made any difference at all, and saw that it was after midnight. The ER doctor went on to say, “You should have come in sooner in order to speak with the doctor.” Can you believe that the ER doctor actually said that? To say the least, I was outraged!! How could this ER doctor say such a thing to me? I demanded that I speak with the hospital’s Nephrologist, immediately, or I was going to have my daughter transferred elsewhere. Why is it that I had to go to such lengths to have someone explain my daughter’s condition and treatment plan to me? Nevertheless, I finally had a phone conversation with the Nephrologist, which turned out to be very unsatisfying. The physician explained her condition, somewhat, but didn’t have any treatment plan. Let me get this straight . . . My daughter is in septic shock and there’s no plan?? I knew I had to shake things up and get medical personnel to take some action before it was too late.
There are so many hospital occurrences that I would consider risky and unsafe about Chelsea’s hospital experience, too many to go into detail and I could go on and on about why I had so much trouble. However, that would take too much time, but I will just mention a few. Number one, getting the doctor, on call to place a Nephrostomy tube in my daughter, to help drain the infection. And number two, getting an OB/GYN physician to go in and give my daughter a D&C. I also understood that Chelsea’s vitals were so unstable that it would be best to have both procedures performed at the same time; to prevent her from being placed under anesthesia twice. Nevertheless, after causing a commotion and threatening to fly my daughter by helicopter to another facility, since no one was taking action, Chelsea was prepped and in surgery by 3:00 a.m. My daughter is my life, I made it happen!
So, my daughter was operated on early that morning and thank god, she came through okay. She was in intensive care for several days, from there, she went to a step-down unit and then to a med-surg or regular floor before discharge. All through her stay, I was there asking the questions and overseeing, what I believed to be substandard care. Unfortunately, this series of events is not unusual and not hospital specific. If you research statistics, and always take note as to how these statistics are obtained, you will find that it is the health care system in general that has created this MEDICAL JEOPARDY. How many people die because of medical neglect, mistakes or just plain substandard care? Being someone that had a glimpse into the world of hospital risk, as a Risk Manager, it is more frightening than you can imagine.
Wow, the things that you’re not aware of . . . scary indeed. I understand for some, there is no desire to want to know what goes on in hospitals. But I want to believe that for most, it is of great interest to know what type of treatment you or your loved one is receiving and how you or your loved one’s life ranks among hospital personnel. If a trip to the hospital is necessary, what are your chances? You can research the statistics, but your best insurance is awareness and having a patient advocate to oversee your interests.
You should be constantly asking questions, staying alert and aware of your surroundings. Who is in the room? Who is providing the treatment? What is the treatment plan and why? Is there any alternative treatment which is better suited for this particular illness or injury? Who has your life or your loved one’s life in their hands? You must take charge, be responsible, and know what is being done and why. Even though you may not have a medical background, schooling of any kind or possess any medical knowledge, please know that you should always make your health your business . . . Your health and well-being is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!
So, who has experienced a trip to the hospital that didn’t turn out so well? Maybe you made it home okay, but the care you received was substandard. Unfortunately, in many cases, you may not even know that you received substandard care while in the hospital.
I’m fortunate and have a medical background. I have been a patient many times myself. I’ve been exposed to multiple aspects of the health care industry and blessed with the insight of knowing how one should be treating while in a medical facility. In any event, most people are not that lucky. Without a doubt, I hope this blog raises awareness and in doing so, people will be more responsible for their health.
PLEASE DO NOT allow hospitals to play . . . Medical Jeopardy!! Do you have an experience of Medical Jeopardy? If so, please share your story. THANK YOU!