Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nothing By Mouth

Health Literacy 101

When I went to see the patient before her surgery she said "Don't get too close, I haven't brushed my teath."  I asked her why and she said "Because they said nothing by mouth".

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Working Together for the Sake of the Patient

Homeless Not Helpless
The call came in that a patient who is hospitalized was getting discharged too soon.  He was still very weak, unable to walk and had no place to go.  His Medicaid payments, the caller explained was about to run out and he had no family to help him.  The caller was contacted by a family member of the patient.  Not knowing how to help, the caller called PULSE of NY.

My first reaction was ‘How could they?’  But I know, after all these years that there are always two sides to hear. In this case it will be three.  When I called the patient, I found out his family wasn’t supportive, he didn’t know which doctor was in charge since there were numerous problems and he was homeless.  Hospitalized for many weeks, with many problems, he couldn’t focus on what the professionals were telling him. 
I decided to pay a visit and invited the nurse into the patient’s room to talk in front of him about his concerns.  I noticed there was no nurses name on the patient’s white board and was careful to say to the nurse’s aide, “there is no name, can you tell me who the nurse is?”  I then asked the nurse to call the social worker in to see us.  The social worker tried to get us to leave the patient’s room (the patient had an infection and we were “gowned up”) but I suggested that we stay and talk in front of him.
He was homeless but the hospital would pay his cab fare the social worker said, to get him to a friend, family or a shelter.  He hadn’t yet called all his friends who might help as he led me to believe and if he needs rehab, the social worker explained that there are shelters now set up to take homeless people who need special services.
The patient, obviously in need of company and companionship was hesitant to let me go but I was confident that there was a system in place to care for him and the hospital staff knows about it and is willing to help.