by Brad Nelson 7/11/14
I spent 3-1/2 hours last night in the emergency room of the local hospital. My mother did something stupid (tried to walk down a flight of stairs in the dark), fell, and cut her head. She’s fine. CAT scans, as they say, were negative, which is a good thing. She had a cut over her left eye that was repaired with stitches and one on the scalp that was repaired with staples. Why staples on this second cut? Because the scar wouldn’t show, so apparently staples save time, but do an inferior job cosmetically.
And if a hospital is so arranged so as to save time and to be efficient, this was the one and only instance of it.
The castle analogy is somewhat inexact, for a hospital is the easiest thing to get into. You just walk in the front door. There is no mote. But from there, the dragon you must slay is the endless and repetitive administrative staff.
No less than four people asked my mother the exact same questions: What medications are you taking? Did you feel woozy before you fell? Did you lose consciousness? What’s your name? Who is your doctor? And many other questions. Haven’t they heard of iPads and sharing information? Apparently not.
While sitting waiting, waiting, and waiting (which gave me lots of time to observe), I got the distinct impression that the purpose of a hospital is to roll mobile electronic carts from one end of the building to the other, for there seemed to be plenty of people employed to do just that. But as to actually helping the patients, that was a lower priority.
There was one other person in the emergency room when we arrived. I’d hardly say they were having a rush on injuries. Dealing with the hospital had aspects not only like a castle but like playing chess with a very slow and deliberate player. The hospital would make a move, and then we’d be set somewhere to wait about 45 minutes waiting for their next move. This happened several times. First was the entrance move where, with great deliberation, we were asked trivial information at the front desk (the gate, one could say) which would be asked again and again during the course of the night.
We were then seated in the waiting area while the vast array of administrative staff (they sit behind a circular rampart of a counter) figured their next move. The next move was to be moved to a room where then absolutely nothing took place but the repetition of the questions: What medications are you taking? Did you feel woozy before you fell? Did you lose consciousness? What’s your name? Who is your doctor?
Meanwhile during all this time my mother is bleeding. Oh, it was a mild bleeding, one stemmed with a terrycloth towel that we had brought along. But no one offered a bit of help regarding the actual injury for over 2-1/2 hours. Granted, I understand the triage process. But other than the seemingly desperate need to roll electronic medical carts around the building or to sit behind the rampart desk area where a dozen medical staff all seemed to be doing something terribly uninteresting, I couldn’t see anyone else who needed help.
Good god, all I kept thinking is that if things are this inefficient now, wait until all of Obamacare kicks in. I would imagine that a private entrepreneur, with one third the staff, could have done the same job in one third the time.
To top if off, the walls were lined with stupid Orwellian-like administrative posters blabbing on in bureaucratese about some obscure goal or another. One of the posters was talking about the need to reduce the number of alarms going off. That seems a worthy goal, but what good does putting a 4′ x 5′ poster serve in this regard? Do hospital staff receive their training via posters? And aren’t the posters themselves just one more piece of noise that the posters say there is a need to reduce?
Good god, eat right, exercise, and do what the hell you can to stay out of these hospitals which seem to be little more than castles for administrative staff. Oh, to their credit, the staff were polite and cheerful. But they didn’t seem to be doing all that much.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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