Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Last night I called my mother to check up on Dad's day. It was her turn to visit him and he doesn't have a land line in his room, so I only hear from him if he calls me on his cell phone. She relayed a story that left me shaking with anger. The night prior the nurse had administered what Dad thought was his antibiotic. It wasn't until later when she handed him a cup full of pills that he asked what they were for. Instead of his antibiotic that he needs every four hours, she had given him insulin and was also prepared to give him the pills that were actually prescribed to his diabetic roommate. Oh. Did I mention his diabetic roommate was discharged from the nursing home FUCKING DAYS AGO? I'm thoroughly shocked the nurse didn't try to cover up her gigantic mistake, but she did at least note the error in his chart, and his doctor was called, as well as my mother. Someone with some kind of authority at that godforsaken place met with my parents and apologized. My mom also impressed upon this person that the nurses weren't using proper protocol, skipping cleaning the IV port with an alcohol swab each time they administered his antibiotic (which isn't always administered on time, either). The person called it a failure in "Nursing 101" and said she would go over protocol with all of the nurses, but I won't be holding my damn breath.

I think it is completely utterly fucking unacceptable. I wanted them to immediately look into transferring him to some other, possibly slightly less godforsaken nursing home, but I think my parents feel trapped because there are few places that are considered "skilled nursing" and also provide physical therapy (the place must be labeled "skilled nursing" for the insurance to cover the outrageous $600-a-day antibiotic bill). I wouldn't call what he has received "SKILLED nursing," but what do I fucking know? We're just peons of the system.

If I were to make some horrible mistake at my job, I would get fired. However, if I misspell a word or use the wrong verb tense in something I am editing, the world keeps turning. If a nurse administers the wrong medication becaues of blatant laziness (and/or idiocy), people fucking die. I don't want that responsibility in my job, that's why I am not a nurse. They voluntarily receive education and take a position that places this weighty responsibility on their shoulders. If they can't take the precious time to look at a goddamn chart and verify which patient they are actually caring for, then they should just go back to their hovels and light up yet another cigarette and stay seated on their fat asses where they won't have the opportunity to destroy someone's life.

The best thing my dad can do at this point is be proactive in his own care. He is fortunate to be there for physical therapy, not a long-term living situation, and he has a sharp mind. He is able to speak up for himself whereas I imagine many patients in the facility suffer from dementia or other mental or physical shortcomings that make it impossible for them to assure their own safety. It shouldn't have to be this way. He was at Clarian for almost an entire month, and they were exceptionally dilligent, constantly checking and double checking to make sure he was, in fact, John, and was there for a certain medical reason before administering medication or commencing testing. He hasn't even been at this nursing home a week. The sooner he gets out of that hellhole the better.


blind irish pirate said...


See, I've been the nurse that has administered the incorrect medication to the incorrect patient. Now, before you tell me the difference between what I do and what THEY do, and how no one gives a shit about a horse, I will say that this nurse (supposing she has any pride in her work at all) probably feels/felt horrible, wanted to cry, wanted to invent a time machine, wanted to scream and/or wanted to send a resignation letter.

95% of people in the medical industry should feel that. If they don't, then rage away.

I'm sure it doesn't make you feel any better at all, but it doesn't matter how thorough or careful or smart and motivated you are: mistakes happen. The fact that she DIDN'T attempt to cover her ass shows she regrets the situation.

So, before you go calling for God to hit the smite button...

Katherine said...

I still vote smite. But writing helps me calm down and I'm feeling slight less smite-y today. Logically, I know that mistakes happen every day and the situation could have been much worse, but gawddayam if this world isn't fair.