Hospitals and Lessons Learned

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”  ~ Mary Oliver

( Note: In order to protect my daughter’s privacy, and of those involved in the incident, I will share only what I believe I can)

A few years ago I worked for an amazing company called RL Solutions.  I really enjoyed working there because I finally felt that I was making a good contribution to society.  This company created software to make health care safer.  During my tenure there, I became very knowledgeable about the cogwheels of health care, specifically what would happen in hospitals.  I learned very quickly to ask many questions and take responsibility for the health care I received and especially that of my.

Tie this knowledge with being highly intuitive, and I quickly figured out why last Friday I was feeling out of sorts.  You see, last Friday my daughter had to visit the local children’s hospital for an MRI.  She attempted to have one the week before and it didn’t work.  She was too scared.  My daughter isn’t scared of anything, especially hospitals and doctors as she was exposed to them since she was born as my Dad was in and out of hospitals all the time until he passed away a couple of years ago.  And having this procedure done at a children’s hospital, they understood these sorts of things and recommended that she return and this time have sedation.  Let me note that this hospital is a world renown hospital, and the service we received the first time was absolutely wonderful.  They were very comforting and catered to my daughter, made her feel very important and they were amazing at calming her anxiety.

So this past Friday I woke up with a knot in my stomach.  I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way – like as if something bad was going to happen.  My mind wasn’t worried about the appointment, but my gutt was.  My daughter knew we were going to the hospital, but something just wasn’t right.  I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I had, and it was beginning to worry me.

We arrived at the hospital to for the MRI with sedation.  We checked in and everything seemed to be going smoothly as it did last time.  What was different was that she had to be screened for the drug, which is understandable.  And then things started falling apart.  The process wasn’t the same as what was described to me at time of booking.  I started to wonder what was going on. The prior week, her test took place within minutes of arriving, whereas this time an hour and a half had passed and the IV line wasn’t inserted, let alone the medication being administered. Other patients who arrived long after we did came and went, and we continued waiting.  Then, the radiologist arrived to collect us, and brought us into the MRI room and wanted my daughter to lay down.  My daughter freaked out, and was shaking with fear.  At one point she bolted to the door.  I turned to the radiologist and advised that she was to receive sedation, and he explained that she would not be receiving sedation, as there is no one in the hospital to prescribe it.  I explained that the purpose of us being here today was to receive the sedation, or else it would be a repeat of the week before, and that it didn’t make sense.  We went back and forth like this for a while and then I demanded to speak with a supervisor.

I waited for another half hour to speak with someone.  I proceeded to the reception desk, and only then did someone approach me.  The drug was giving to my daughter and within ten minutes of it being administered, they wanted to proceed with the test.  I’m not a clinician, but I know that an orally ingested drug normally requires at least half an hour to take effect.  My daughter at this point was so tight with anxiety that she wouldn’t allow anyone to go near her.  The end result, my daughter didn’t do the test.  No surprise here. And the drug took effect while we were on our way home.

So over the weekend I debated as to whether or not I should contact the hospital’s patient relations department over this.  In the end I did.  I’m glad that I did because I learned a lot from this incident.  Where I believed that there was a breakdown in communication at the hospital, was completely far from the truth.  What was discovered was that the radiologist was uncomfortable in prescribing the drug, and therefore was delaying the test from taking place.  The nurses could not do anything until they received the go ahead from him.  And we were left in the dark, waiting.  Nothing was ever communicated to us.  So now, once again we must return there, and I’m not sure how to do this.  My daughter is adamant about not stepping foot in a hospital again.  Heck, yesterday she wouldn’t even sit in the dentist chair, and she never had a problem going to the dentist.  This incident has certainly created ripple effects.

These are some of the things I learned from this incident:

  1. You MUST take control of your own health.  We are all human, and therefore mistakes will happen.  Doctors, nurses or anyone that works in health care are not immune to mistakes.
  2. Always look at who else is involved in with what you’re doing.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing something, communicate with others and come up with an alternative plan.  As a result of the radiologist not doing his job, my daughter was traumatized, and now many more complicated steps are required in order for her next appointment to take place.
  3. There are always consequences to actions or inactions.  Consider them before doing anything and then proceed with care.  Again, because of this incident, many people have had to get involved now.  Also, this was a time sensitive test, which the radiologist may or may had not known.  I am praying that there will not be any adverse consequences because now there is a long delay to her next test. Had he had thought of this, maybe this would not have happened.   This is a hospital after all, and she is having a test for a reason.
  4. Advocate for yourself.  You deserve the best because you matter.  If you see that someone cannot advocate for themselves, step in.  Everyone is important.

Of course these lessons are not limited to health care.  They apply to all areas of life.  I struggled with whether or not I should share them with you, but I felt that I needed to, because I care about you.  Not that I have any enemies, but if I did, I wouldn’t wish this upon them.  No one should experience this.  In a nutshell, don’t remain silent and accept things the way they are.  Speak up.  You matter.

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