Monday, August 10, 2009

Hospitals and Elders: not always a happy outcome

An NPR story this morning caught my ear and my heart, as it told of a situation I had experienced with my mother in 2005, which really was the beginning of her end.
These were my comments:

My mother had been inappropriately given a morphine patch for arthritis pain at the University of Chicago Hospitals, which landed her in the hospital with hallucinations and balance issues. While there, delirium ensued & she was tied down, etc. She also kept thinking she was under a railway bridge hearing trains go by. This did not help her evaluation! After hearing about 'sundowners', I spent several nights with her in order to orient her when she woke up. And then I heard the "trains": turns out the helipad for the medical helicopters was right near her room & that is what she was hearing! But I must tell you, the general hospital noise was enough to drive a sane, well person nuts: bells, lights, announcements, visits to get anyone was supposed to get well there, was unimaginable. This visit was the beginning of her end. I was totally unimpressed with care for elderly patients: from waiting for hours in the emergency rooms, moved around, beds & chairs not good for stiff, aging bodies, food just left at the bedside for patients who could not lift their hands to their mouth. Don't get me started on my father's (lack of) care. May I never die as an old person in a hospital. Geriatric care has a long way to go.

On a related note:
Several years ago, several researchers completed studies on noise reduction in hospitals: not only did the patients benefit, but the work environment for doctors, nurses, staff improved dramatically and stress levels came down. The cost of implementing these positive changes was negligible.

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