I’m sorry if you missed my column last month. I had a heart attack requiring a triple bypass. Luckily, I was visiting a friend on the west side of Las Vegas who is a retired firefighter and who knew exactly what to do in this situation.
My hospital stay resulted in the following observations.
During my recovery period there were a parade of physicians, none of whom I had met before. My surgeon and anesthesiologist did a marvelous job but I must have talked to them a total of five minutes before and after surgery.
I had severe coughing and shortness of breath for a few months before hospitalization, so a pulmonologist came in as a consultant. An infectious disease specialist ordered intravenous antibiotic therapy. It was a sterile surgery, but this practice is common. I would have thought it could have been just as easily ordered by the surgeon.
Understandably, a cardiologist on the consultation team appeared, but conversation was always short. There was someone who came every day and said he was the hospital physician. He would just summarize what the others had said.
I even had a nephrologist visit. I don’t know if anyone had ordered a consultation since I had no prior kidney problems and none after surgery.
If an OB-GYN came by, that would have been the last straw.
The nurses ranged from excellent to average. One came in chewing gum. Call me old-fashioned but anyone meeting the public should refrain from this practice. A few called me honey or darling. One of the male nurses called me buddy.
The nurse assistants and nurses aides did a good job except at night when some would leave the drapes or door open so that light entered the room making sleep even more difficult. One left the bathroom door open with the light on with the same result.
Interestingly, I rarely saw the same nurse two days in a row. I was told that staffing requirements were the cause.
Ancillary personnel included a dietitian, who merely left a diet info sheet for cardiac patients. Respiratory therapists came by frequently for IPPB (intermittent positive pressure breathing) and also left an incentive spirometer to use any time. One of the therapists really was unfamiliar with the use of the IPPB machine and gave me an excuse to refuse further treatment since I really don’t believe the costs justify its dubious benefit.
An alternative idea is to provide an inexpensive finger pulse oximeter and instruct the patient to take deep breaths to get as close to 100 as possible, and not allowing it to go below 90.
X-ray techs and lab personnel rounded out the group. One never went more than two hours without someone doing a test.
Occupational and physical therapists came by to demonstrate exercises in bed and home and to help get me out of bed and stroll the hallway. After the first time, I think nurses aides could easily do this job.
At discharge, I was given a long list of expensive medications. A printed form listed the physicians’ phone numbers and to call in four days. When I called, no office knew who I was or why I was calling. Interestingly, some doctors who visited left their cards but none of their names were on the list.
In case of a problem, there was no one designated to call. The hospital physician should have been listed since he could consult the appropriate doctor. No email addresses were given.
The worst experience was the food. It was supposedly for cardiac patients and excluded all salt. A saltine cracker without any sodium is like eating cardboard. There was orange juice from a company called Suncup that was undrinkable. Loss of appetite after such surgery is common and being presented with such unpalatable food compounds the problem. The doctors and hospital CEO should be made to taste it. I survived on fruits and snacks my friend would bring.
The horrible food was a big incentive to leave the hospital as soon as possible.
Glenn Nakadate is a Boulder City resident and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.