Bad patient? Good for you!

I don’t watch Sex and the City, so I have no clue who this guy is, but he’s an actor and is spreading the word about being vigilant when it comes to your health care in the hospital. You can read and watch his story here.

He was in the hospital with leukemia in the 80s, and his watchfulness (as well as that of friends and family, when he was too sick and weak to watch for himself) saved his life and health numerous times. He beat the odds, with his particular type of cancer, and he attributes it to being a “bad” patient. One time he looked at the IV bag he was given, and it had another patient’s name on it. Yikes! He was on chemotherapy, so obviously his immune system was suppressed, yet he frequently saw health-care workers not follow basic hygiene requirements for working with people in his condition. Also, his doctors had forbidden certain drugs (presumably after previous bad reactions or allergic reactions), yet nurses kept trying to give them to him. (I don’t think this was deliberate — just probably that they were so used to standard protocol and standard drugs, that they kept pulling the standard drugs without verifying that he needed alternate medication.)

My brother-in-law’s nephew is permanently vegetative (he can’t speak, but does make noise when something is going on that he doesn’t like — for instance, when people are around and he can hear them but is in his room away from them; he’s fed through a tube, etc.), because when he was a baby, he was taken to the hospital severely dehydrated, and the nurse accidentally gave him an intravenous saline solution instead of the glucose/rehydrating solution he was supposed to have been given. Instead of rehydrating him, she made the dehydration worse! Permanently.

Here is a website you really need to check out, if you’re planning a hospital birth: Hospital Infection.org. This is not to scare you! Just to give you tools to keep yourself safe. They have a list of things you can do to help protect yourself from getting an infection — and some of these things are “little” things like making sure your nurse — and everybody else who enters your room — washes his or her hands before touching you or anything else.

This woman died in a hospital soon after giving birth, and her husband is suing because he believes she died from an infection introduced by her epidural — he says the anesthesiologist did not maintain a sterile environment: “In fact, he was touching his cell phone and touching his pager, turning it off, during the procedure.” Also, when it became apparent she had an infection, her doctor ordered an antibiotic, but it was never administered. It might have saved her life. She was helpless at that point — sick from the raging infection — but her family, namely her husband, could have been on the alert, checking her medications, ringing the nurses’ station frequently to check where the antibiotic was, etc. Of course, the hospital denies all charges.

Then there are infections like MRSA and “flesh eating bacteria”. This teen mom had “portions of her legs amputated” after contracting a bacterial infection while in the hospital giving birth; her ovaries were taken as well.

Oh, yeah, be a bad patient! Make sure everybody who enters your room washes his hands! Do you really think hospital door knobs are sterile?? Me neither.

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