Mom’s Hospital Stay

As I mentioned in my last post, Mom lost vision in her left eye a few hours before Shabbat ended. The emergency room “care” she received (in my opinion) was awful. One doctor after another contradicted each other and a few even lied to her. Having worked for an eye surgeon for almost 15 years, she knew that if the problem wasn’t diagnosed and treated within the first hour she would not regain her sight. She was put through all sorts of unnecessary tests and treated like a guinea pig at the big teaching hospital.

By 4:30 in the morning – 8 hours after she showed up at Nathan Littauer Hospital – the staff at Albany Medical Center were running around like chickens without heads, they had no idea what was wrong with her but they were ordering drugs and tests. Every time a test was performed, multiple “doctors” put her through it again so they could each experience what they were supposed to be seeing.

At one point I heard (in my exhausted head) Bill Cosby yelling “Hey! You! Almost a doctor!” But it wasn’t funny, it was scary and I had to aggressively protect Mom’s dignity and rights.

She was tortured by an incompetent nurse who spent about 7 or 8 minutes twisting and turning an IV needle trying to find blood. Mom was moaning and squirming and biting her lip. I almost hit the woman. I told her to try the other arm already – or get someone in who could do the job without hurting her.

The eye doctors put her through about 45 minutes of “testing”, taking turns at shining bright lights in her eyes and sticking her with their antiquated glaucoma machine (the type that touches your eye with a piece of metal) – this was AFTER they already told her there was NOTHING that could be done to restore her eyesight. They just wanted to look around and see if they could determine what caused it.

The guy thought he saw a blood clot behind the eye (the girl couldn’t see anything there), and he suggested they do surgery to take a further look around. I asked if this procedure would improve her eyesight and he said “no, not unless it was done within the first hour of blindness”. He then left the room to ask his superior if he could do the procedure and Mom was taken back to her ER stall. She was frantic until he came back to tell her that his superior declined permission.

The final straw came when the neurologist ordered the MRI and everyone lied to her about whether or not it was an open MRI. When she got up there she didn’t want to go in and I stopped them because she was petrified. They brought her back down to ER and then this nasty “professional” scolded her (in front of 4 interns) telling her that she had the right to refuse the CLOSED MRI, but she was endangering her life! I suggested that she be transferred to a facility with more modern equipment and this little twerp of an intern gave us a lecture about how much more accurate closed MRIs are than open ones – tell that to the guy who patented the new improved system!

Then the neurologist claimed that she could not be transferred to another facility – if she insisted, Medicare wouldn’t pay the bill. I told him she had the right to walk out the door any time she felt she was not receiving competent care and then described for him all the incompetence she had experienced so far. He backed down and became more friendly and suggested a sedative for the closed MRI after she told him for the umpteenth time that she was claustrophobic and detailed her experience of being trapped in an elevator when she worked at the Diamond Exchange in NYC.

After putting her through the MRI, they didn’t have the results until Monday afternoon! In the meantime they put her on a Heparin drip (just in case she might have a blood clot) and kept her on it for 7 days!

They also tried to give her FOUR times her normal dose of insulin that first night and it wasn’t until after she challenged them that they investigated her dosages – I believe it was a day or two later before the diabetes doctor actually came in and changed her dosage.

When they realized that her potassium level was elevated, a nurse let it slip that this isn’t unusual for patients on heparin. But the doctor scared her half to death by telling her that her kidney function had dropped to 25% and if it wasn’t reversed (with more drugs), she could end up needing dialysis! Ultrasounds, MRIs, blood panels, a biopsy and 9 days in the hospital (she was admitted around 6 PM on Sunday, July 6th) and all they could tell her was that she has hardening of the arteries.

Personally, I believe that they – and her primary care physician – caused the situation she is now in. All those medications, causing additional symptoms and contraindication. I don’t believe she’s received good care from any of them. I am glad she is finally home and safe and hope that this new round of medication doesn’t make things worse.

We stopped by the hospital to say good-bye to Mom as we were leaving town. It was difficult as they still didn’t have any answers for her by Tuesday.
Mom in hospital

To be fair, I must tell you that Lisa stayed with Mom throughout most of her hospital stay and has a different opinion of the care she received in the trauma unit – she feels that every one of the doctors and nurses treated her very well. I agree to disagree.

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