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Trauma in the Hospital

A recent 10 day stay at a hospital was traumatic.

Not all stays in the Hospital are favorable. I choose not to name any particular Hospital because many Hospitals share the same shortcomings; then again many Hospitals do not have these same shortcomings. I bring attention to Hospital policy, not the staff. The Nurses were wonderful and could not be better; they were literally "Angels from Heaven." The Nursing staff followed Hospital policy to the letter; they cannot be blamed for any of the shortcomings described in this article.

A recent ten day stay at a Hospital was traumatic; sleep deprivation proved to be a horrible experience. The Hospital policy did not seem to acknowledge the need for sleep in the recovery process. I was actually awake for seven days, with no more than one hour segments of sleep. I actually watched the hands on the room clock move for a period of one week. The traumatic effect of sleep deprivation was not acknowledged by the hospital. Sleep Deprivation is a well known form of Torture practiced by many countries. I must admit that my spirit was almost totally destroyed due to lack of sleep. If sleep was induced as a matter of policy, I might have been better equipped to deal with the trauma of the Hospital stay.

The Hospital seemed to flaunt their 24/7 mode of operation. With no regard for the sleep requirement of a patient, the lights were turned on every four hours for medication and Blood Tests. There must be some compromise between tests and the sleep requirements of the patients! I was not asked, not even once, if I had slept properly!

The bulletin board that displayed the day of the week and date were not always current; I soon found myself sliding in to a mental crevasse, not knowing the actual date and day of the week.

Pain management also proved to be a horrible experience. I was getting severe pain and called for a Nurse. The Nurse must first find a Doctor, and a request must then be sent to the Pharmacy. Three hours later I received the pain medication. The shift changes and once again the syndrome repeats itself; call a Nurse who must first find a Doctor, and send a prescription to the Pharmacy, and wait three hours. It literally took days to get the pain medication added to my normal list of medications.

The Nursing staff was powerless to help, when I told them about something I do at home, to stop the pain of acid Reflux. In addition to the acid reflux medicine, at home, I also take 1/4 of an antacid tablet when stomach acid does indeed start to burn my esophagus. This small trick is not part of acceptable medical protocol, and it took almost six days to get them to realize that I was in misery for lack of my antacid tablets. The hospital should be responsive to the patient's history of what works, and what does not work. In many cases the patient knows what works best for him. Do you have any idea how painful an acid soaked esophagus can be?

I spoke to three other people that have spent extensive time at Hospitals on behalf of their relatives. All Three expressed the same opinions; they believed that every patient should have a Patient Advocate. As told to me, that was the only way to get the kind of care that their loved ones deserved. No advocate; the patients pleas are often ignored. Again the system, not the Nurses.

I believe that every patients sleep history should be documented, along with the tests. If a patient did not get the proper amount of sleep, something should be done to correct the situation. A comprehensive policy of Pain Management, should also be adopted. The Hospital should listen to the patient when he tells them what actually works for him at home. Hopefully if all of the above are adopted, a patient advocate may not be required.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

David Kennedy March 24, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Ben, you make a very valid point and propose an interesting solution...I hope you continue to push this concept..and more importantly hope you are well...you provide a sane and balanced voice for our community.
Jo Miller March 24, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Ben, I hope you are recovering well. Every hospital has a Patient Advocate with whom your concerns can be discussed and complaints filed. Please contact that person and maybe even send a copy of this blog. .
Ben Vitale March 24, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I did contact the Hospital Patient advocate; It did not do any good. I already gave this information to the hospital via post surgical followup telephone calls. This Blog post was written on behalf of three other people besides myself; all in agreement that some Hospitals need to change some of their procedures.
Elizabeth K March 25, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Feel Better, You are right. I was asked my mother's maiden name as I was shutting my eyes after a delivery, Just so their paper was done......I Pack my own Motrin. Crazy....Make sure you make a note on the survey. You make a valid piont in reagrds to care, be well.
Lee March 25, 2012 at 12:53 AM
My parents have had very bad experiences with the hospitals on the south shore. As a result, they found a general practitioner in Setauket, so that they can go to Mather when they need hospitalization. Both of my parents have needed quite a bit of hospitalization, and I can tell you that Mather is very good. Their emergency room is the best around here. I don't know you Ben, but I hope that you are feeling better.
Laurie Kiss March 26, 2012 at 12:35 PM
I can relate to your experience. A few days ago my mom was told to go to the ER for further testing (possible appendix) and we arrived 11 a.m.to a bed in the hallway of the ER, and she didn't get a bed and a room until 11:30 p.m. talk about sleep deprived. And what we had to do to get a pillow and decent blankets. It's very sad. The staff was wonderful, but their hands are tied on many aspects of the hospital rules and regulations. No one likes to be in hospital, but it shouldn't be torturous either. Hope you are feeling better.
Ben Vitale March 26, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Lourie The hospital provided only "Sheet Blankets," which are 3/16 inch thick; the Blankets that I use at home are 5/8 inch thick. I had to use five Hospital blankets, Tripled over, and also barricade myself with Pillows, in order to keep warm. The Air Conditioning had one thermostat for Three rooms; some patients were too cold, and the others complained that it was too hot. Hospitals should actually listen to the patients, instead of only going through the motions. Again all patients need a family member to act as their advocate; this should not be!
Ben Vitale March 27, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Laureen Part 1 I hate comment boxes! Somehow dialog always gets swayed in such a way that one must be "for," or "against" an issue. No shades of gray exist! The particular hospital that I went to has a world renown medical staff. The doctors are the best in the world; if they weren't, I would not be able to write this blog. The issues are sleep deprivation and cold; Hospital policy! Many words do not change a thing! You sound like a representative for the un-named Hospital. I was in both the ICU and General Floor; sleep and cold were my problems; the staff and doctors were wonderful. The patient bill of rights, does not say that I will not be treated for sleep deprivation in. In addition to my advocate, I also talked to the Hospital Patient Advocate, and told her of my sleep problem; I did move up the chain of command. I did sign the releases allowing access to my records. All insurance issues were taken care of. All of the information was provided about past Medical History and medications in writing. In spite of my advocates best efforts, and my efforts to communicate with the Hospital; it took almost six days to add Antacid Tablets to my medications. You should not have to bring an extra Blanket to the Hospital; the Hospital should provide real Blankets.
Ben Vitale March 27, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Laureen Part 2 I hope that "Certified Building Practices," corrects the faulty Air conditioning problem. We are beyond words; official recognition of the patients need for sleep and warmth is the only acceptable answer. Remember this blog was written on behalf of Three Patient Advocates, in addition to myself.
melanie April 21, 2012 at 04:41 PM
what hospital was this?

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