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.