A trip to the hospital – a complaint

Here is a copy of a complaint I sent regarding just a really bad day. Be annoyed with me for stuff I’ve done that’s worthy of scorn and bad treatment. Being sick doesn’t even make the list.

Hospitals use a scale to measure pain: 1-to-10

That same scale is used to measure quality and experience, efficacy and outcome.

My visit to (name changed) your ER on April 29 was so poor that a “1” would’ve been welcome.

I’ve been to the ER twice last week: on April 27 and April 29.

My first visit on April 27 was for severe stomach and back pain and vomiting. I’ve had several attacks in the last week and on the recommendation of my physician I went to the local ER for diagnostic testing and assessment. I was cared for and sent home with a diagnosis of acute gastroenteritis – the real problem had not yet been identified. The care I received there was appropriate and mostly thorough. Had an abdominal ultrasound (a CT scan was ordered) been done I’m sure your hospital would have identified my issue sooner.

On April 29 I had another severe attack of the same symptoms and headed for the main ER.

I live in Conifer, about a 40-minute drive from the ER. My friend drove me and on the way down, I called ahead and said I was coming in: my pain was a 10, and that earlier in the day I was diagnosed at (name changed) Bob’s Ultrasound with gallstones. I was told that was fine, they would see me when I arrived.

We came into the ER in late afternoon, I’m not sure of the exact time. My pain was a “10” at that point. I was put in a wheelchair and placed by triage. The triage nurse, (name changed) Nick and another man were at the desk. I don’t remember much of the conversation but I did say I’d been at the SMC ER two days before.

I do remember that Nick told me there were no open rooms and to have a seat in the waiting room.

Now, I don’t know about others when they’re in pain. I know that I can’t talk very well. I’m not articulate; I’m not a effusive. I’m already at my limit of what I can take and my dimming hope that this ER would respond to my pain and distress.

My response was, “Are you fucking kidding?”

I did not yell, nor was I abusive. I was incredulous.

Nick’s response was swift. He lit into me and scolded me about abusive language. He was angry and indignant.

I was parked in the waiting room and a short time later a charge nurse came over and escorted me and my friend to a small triage room near the waiting room, a room with a solid door and no ceiling, a room that I’m sure violates HIPPA privacy by allowing waiting room people to hear a person’s physical complaints.

Anyway, that charge nurse did NOT assess me. She scolded me for being abusive towards her staff and that I would have to wait.

We told her we’d called ahead to let staff know I was coming in and we were told, “We don’t take reservations.”

I was moved back to the waiting room without assessment. My pain is still at a 10.

My friend, Peggy is a nurse with a 50-year professional career. She was incensed at the treatment I was receiving. She went to the desk and asked for Nick’s name, with the intention of making a formal complaint.

Nick followed her back to where we were sitting and demanded to know why she wanted his name. He felt a complaint was unwarranted because I was abusive.

The conversation that followed was surreal. Nick asked if Peggy what should he do about no open rooms? Park me in the hallways? I also heard Nick talk about his heart issues and how he knows what real pain feels like.

He then asked Peggy what kind of work she did because she obviously had no idea what it’s like to work around people in pain.

Both Peggy and I work on patient floors at (name changed) Chris Hospital.

He wanted to know if we would stand for such talk. Believe me, we get much worse than profanity but we don’t take it personally.

I finally asked Nate to have a nice rest of his day, the only way I could “nicely” let him know that the conversation was at an end. He wisely obliged and went away.

My records will have to consulted but I believe it took almost an hour for an IV to be placed, for blood work and IV Dilaudid and Zofran.

Once my labs came back I think staff began to see I wasn’t faking or drug seeking (I overheard staff say they thought I was drug seeking). God bless the nurse that decided to act on my behalf and the decision was made to admit me to the hospital for surgery.

I had a cholecystectomy on Saturday, April 30.

Peggy told me later than when she was leaving around 2030 that Nick stopped her on her way out and apologized, that they’d gotten off on the wrong foot. She informed him that it wasn’t that they got off on the wrong foot – it’s that Nick isn’t very good at his job.

I did not receive an apology.

Few things are worse than the uncontrollable mix of pain, anger, frustration and fear. At my hospital, we go on with our day with the knowledge that being in pain alters people and their reactions. We don’t get upset about it and our charge nurses don’t lecture patients about appropriate conversation. If our patients are in such great pain that they are swearing, then someone hasn’t done their job.

I wanted to write this letter because this wasn’t a misunderstanding but a systematic failure on the part of triage to properly assess a patient and take quick steps to move through a solution.

Once I was admitted and sent to the 18th floor, the quality of my care went straight up to a “10.”

Caring professional nurses provided me with what I needed to get through the pain and help me sort out the events to come. A charge nurse came by every day to make sure things were going well. Did I have any questions? Concerns? Everyone from the young man who brought me to the floor to the nurses in PACU were such a gift and blessing to me. I couldn’t ask for better care!

I’m forever grateful to nurses Megan (NOC) Kim (days) and Jasmine (days). The care from my trauma surgeon, (names changed) Dr. Black, and medical staff, Dr. Brown was outstanding.

I’m appreciative of the hospital and the services it provides. To have to live with such intense pain is unthinkable and I’m grateful they made it stop.

I am, however, completely apprehensive about ever going to your ER ever again.

Thanks for taking time to read this.

B

P.S. Please tell Nick he has no idea what pain is until he’s given birth.

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