Sunday, April 01, 2012
America. The Best Healthcare?
Thursday night my elderly mother-in-law fell and broke her wrist. She called 911 and the paramedics took her to one of the major hospitals in Los Angeles. We were at the theater.
Fortunately a friend in her building happened by and saw her on the floor and called our house. Fortunately, we had a houseguest staying in our guest room. Fortunately the friend was home. Fortunately we saw the message at intermission and sped to the hospital.
Otherwise, they might well have sent her home in a taxi, drugged, confused, and very unsteady on her feet, with no support at all.
When we arrived around 8:30, she had been there for two hours, confused and in pain. They had x-rayed the arm, wrapped it in a soft cast, hung her fingers unwrapped in wire hangers to let the arm set and pumped her full of pain medication. Six hours later, around 12:30 they took some more x-rays and said we could take her home with a prescription for pain pills she was to take every 6 hours and a referral to an orthopedist.
I asked for a social worker or case manager so we could get home health services. “Don’t have anything like that,” the nurse told me. “No discharge planner?”
“No.”(The hospital actually has a home health department with an emergency number. We found that out two days later from their website.)
I asked the ER doctor, “What do we do with her?”
Her answer did not include “I’ll write you a prescription for a visiting nurse to evaluate her.” Her answer was, “She’ll have to go home with one of you.”
(Note: they did not even give us one extra pain pill that she could take at 6am. Instead, my husband had to drive from 1:30am to 2:15 in search of an all night pharmacy. Fortunately I was at the house and could take care of her, while he was gone.)TO BE CONTINUED: