Saturday, April 19, 2008

High School Germs

My son thought it was hysterical when I shrieked and dropped the pen in his high schools attendance office when I signed him out sick yesterday. “Ugh”, I heard myself yell out. “The person who signed out last had pink eye!” I continued to sign my name and immediately went to scrub my hands. The nice women there explained that the mother of the sick child signed her out.

It didn’t matter to me who signed the girl out, the fact is the germs are all over and simple precautions could have been taken to change pens or at least be aware of the germs people are carrying. I am not a germ “freak” but I do know that they are coming from somewhere and I don’t feel like getting them.

What if that woman is going to visit a friend or family member in the hospital? Would she know enough to wash before touching her friend or anything in the sick friends room? Have we become so casual with germs that it’s ok to use a shared pen with possible germs lingering from pink eye?

These infections are coming from somewhere and finding their way into our hospitals to attack our most vulnerable citizens. If we, the public don’t declare war on these germs, they will win.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

My Dad's Hospital Stay

My dad was recently hospitalized in a Florida hospital. I’m not sure if it’s this work or my own past experience with medical care and the death of my son from errors in healthcare that put me into that gut wrenching feeling that hospitalization can mean a death sentence. I guess it’s something many medical error survivors feel even many years after their experience.

In this case, my mom called me with the name of the hospital and the doctor’s name. He wasn’t in for anything too serious but that shouldn’t matter. Every hospitalization should be treated serious when we know how dangerous it could be.

The hospital seemed to have won all kinds of awards and was as “good” as a hospital could probably be. But, when I looked up the doctors name on the Florida Department of Health website it read “This practitioner does not currently hold staff privileges at any hospital/medical/health institution in Florida”.

This statement on his self reported profile was as equaling troublesome:

Professional and Postgraduate Training: This practitioner has not completed any graduate medical education.

A gastroenterologist, I would have thought there needs to be some additional training.

I immediately called the Department of Health and only after speaking to 5 people, was anyone able to tell me for certain that this doctor could not practice in the state of Florida as per this profile. Calling Quality Assurance at the hospital I asked them about this information and they told me they had different information and I was mistaken. “I am not mistaken” I explained and faxed her what I was reading. “I will ask my mother to have that doctor removed from my fathers care until you can explain why this doctor can not practice in Florida”

They found another gastroenterologist to treat my dad but before he ever saw him, the first doctor called me to ask what I found and seemed completely oblivious to the states profiling website.

He went on to tell me all his credentials and his good name and then allowed me to offer to help him fix this “mess”. He gratefully accepted and continued as my fathers doctor knowing that we are empowered with information he may not (or may) have known about.

Although I am still concerned that this information was not accurate or just wrong, I was glad that we had this conversation and the practices that I preached worked. We had an open conversation, cleared the air, discussed my concerns and continued the relationship.

I will give him two weeks to fix it.