Friday, May 29, 2009


The New Year started with a challenge. My mother had to go into the hospital urgently. On New Year’s Day I phoned the doctor on duty, because her condition was worsening fast. Fortunately she came rather fast and after my explanation of the situation. She did some investigation and decided that she had to be transported to the hospital. Soon the ambulance came and the medical people started with the diagnosis again. They ‘decided’ to take her to the hospital. In the hospital the expert started with his diagnosis and they took some pictures. After quite a while he talked with us and explained what his conclusion was and that she had to be removed to another hospital. However there were no ambulances available so we had to wait several hours.


Once we arrived in the other hospital, my mother was brought into the first aid department and the whole process started again. We had to wait for a doctor to diagnose her, but it was busy so we waited again several hours. I asked why we had to wait, as it was already clear what the problem was and what the cure was supposed to be. They told me that this was another hospital so they had to start from the beginning all over again. This is quite strange as this hospital was in the same city and belonged to the same group. Why do doctors not accept conclusions from colleagues?


After a couple of hours they confirmed the first diagnosis/conclusion and we had to wait until she could be transported to her room in the hospital. In her room all the people were working very hard and it looked like they had a permanent shortage of qualified help. Some of the nurses were even openly stressed out. But their intent was admirable.


My mother stayed in that room for a week. Nobody told us what the status was and how she was going to be cured. So in every visit I went to the nurses’ room and talk to the nurse what the progress was. I did the same with the doctor on duty. This is how I knew what was going on and what the progress was. The ‘caring’ staff was so busy that they had no time to communicate properly with the patients and/or family. So most visitors for the other patients in the room had no clue what was going on. It was my own initiative and determination, which gave me the necessary information.


All the nurses and doctors were really good, caring people. But the pressure on them was so high that they had not time to communicate properly. When my mother was feeling better just a little bit we were informed within half a day’s notice that she had to go home. The reason was that they her bed for other patients. It seemed that there was a waiting list of patients. The nurse who had to covey me that message was afraid to do so, as she thought herself that it was really not appropriate to send her home now. But her ‘bosses’ ordered her to do so. The nurse felt like she was squeezed between a rock and a hard place. So, we cooperated with her and took my mother home.


In the hospital patients are just people who occupy beds and the caring staff is supposed to manage a fast throughput of those ‘beds’. It has become health business instead of health care. However with some adjustments, especially in the communications between patients, family members and staff a lot can be improved. All parties involved will feel that they are humans and not just numbers or beds. And the impact will be that the work for the staff is more interesting and the patients are aware of their own progress and what the next steps are. Once you know where you are now, what the goal is and what steps you need to take, it is easy to make fast progress.


Health Care is service business and service business is people business!


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