Friday, February 20, 2015

Keith's take


Some of my Facebook friends have had negative experiences with the medical system, so my link to my last post generated a lively discussion. Keith gave his very considered opinion on why patients who can't speak aren't given writing material (he's a writer too, after all). Here it is, by permission:

My theory is that it simply isn't anyone's job to listen to the patient and they don't have the time.

Of course they care. They are people, and that is what people do. 

But they are also professionals who are paid to do a job. When a health care worker comes into a patient's room, it is to do a specific job (give a treatment, turn the patient, take a reading, etc). They need to get in, do the job, and move on to their next patient. Input from the patient isn't important to the specific job they have to do, and in fact can be a distraction. 

I have only seen ICU, DOA, and nursing homes, but it is not the job of anyone in any of those facilities to listen to the patient or to observe the patient. The nurses, CNAs, doctors, and other technicians simply don't have time to wait for every patient they see to communicate via writing. Furthermore, the worker in a room with a patient at any given time is probably not going to be able to help with a specific request. The tech taking blood can't turn a patient or get pain medicine or a bedpan, and if they have to find the person who can that will take even more time. 

So, it is easier if the patient can't communicate. Not better for the patient, but easier.

It is a problem with our system in general, but it is no individual worker's fault. They are being paid to do a job and they do it.

2 comments:

  1. In the really old days, that was a critical part of a good doctor's job. But again, in the *really old* days.
    - Jeff Tucker

    ReplyDelete
  2. Time is money for insurance companies, Jeff. They're more beholden to their shareholders than the policy owners. That's why we really needed universal healthcare. But the ACA barely passed, as it was.

    ReplyDelete

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

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In July of 2013, I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died. When I awoke from the coma, I could barely lift my head. It has been a hard road to recovery. The doctors advised my loved ones to give up all hope for my full recovery, but while they were shining lights in my eyes to gauge my level of consciousness, I was telling them grumpily to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep...in my coma-dream. I was experiencing covert cognition, and the coma-dream was my version of a near-death experience. I'm a skeptic, so I saw surreal images instead of spirits or dead loved ones. According to my research, as many as one in five people with consciousness disorders have covert cognition.

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.