When Healthcare Goes Bad!

Hospitals, Physicians and Nurses…oh my!!!!

I am just now beginning to recuperate after having spent the past two weeks at University Hospital in San Antonio. For anyone who has ever been treated in, and complained about, the hospitals in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire…DON’T!!!

On Wednesday, November 4th, my dad was in a pretty serious motorcycle accident. He is a 73 year old man who was out for a leisurely ride, on his Ducati, with a friend. And yes, before you begin to form the picture in your head, I said 73 and Ducati…he’s a young (albeit broken now) 73!

Apparently, he somehow lost control of his bike and slid off of the road. His left foot stopped when it hit a rock, but his leg didn’t. Therefore, he is missing a 2-3 inch chunk of bone in his left leg.

For beginners, the accident occurred somewhere between noon and one in the afternoon. He was transported, by helicopter, from Rock Springs, Texas to San Antonio. Nobody ever called my mother. She didn’t find out until early that evening what had happened, and that was only because she, along with many friends from Medina, began to make phone calls in order to find him. I only mention this part because when we finally retrieved his belongings from the ER, he was carrying everything with him, including wallet and cell phone. There is no logical reason why the hospital never tried to contact her.

I flew into San Antonio the very next morning and arrived at 12:30 in the afternoon. At this point mom was pretty upset. I had yet to find out what the hospital had put her through the prior night. Dad was in ICU and pretty much out of it. They had already operated on him once and he was being pumped with morphine.

On the ride back to Medina that night, mom began to relay the horrific way she had been treated the night before.

I know this for a fact because I was the one who called…nobody in the ER was passing on any information to my mother while she sat in the waiting for hours. I called the hospital and asked what was going on, they only told me what they were allowed to tell me, but it was still more information than mom had received. I called her back to tell her that the doctors were still operating.

At one point she was sent to wait on a specific floor, only to find out from a security guard that she had been sent to the Lockdown section of the hospital. She was sitting all alone in an area where they kept the criminals.

She was then directed to wait in another area, and it wasn’t until three in the morning that she found out (because she asked a janitor) that dad was out of the OR and in ICU. Nobody had ever come for her.

We spent the next couple of days by his side waiting to find out what they were going to do about the leg. We had been told, initially, that they might not be able to save the leg. At one point, we were told (by morphine induced dad) that he would have the choice of having the leg removed and being fitted with a prosthetic, or having 23 (kind of a random number) surgeries to rebuild the leg. Mom was horrified. Of course, we still hadn’t spoken with a doctor yet. The only thing we were going by was what loopy dad was saying and a hand drawn diagram of what they were proposing to do.

We finally had the chance to talk to an Orthopedic Surgeon on Sunday, November 8th, and were told that they were going to save the leg. They were planning to irrigate one more time, then on Wednesday, November 11th, both the Orthopedic and the Plastic teams were going to spend the whole day repairing the leg.

Mom and I both asked repeatedly if this was going to be the final surgery…we still had that number 23 going through our heads! We were reassured that they would be all done on Wednesday. It wasn’t until the day before surgery that we ran into that same surgeon and found out he was a resident at the hospital. It didn’t matter to us at the time because he was part of the team.

The surgery took about ten hours and we were in the waiting room for quite some time until we contacted the OR Nurses’ station and told them we were going to be staying at a nearby hotel. Although we never met any of them, I would have to say that the OR Nurses were by far the most efficient staff members of that entire hospital. They kept us informed throughout the whole operation.

Dad was then moved to ICU. That is when we found out, from a resident Plastic Surgeon, that this was just the beginning of what will be a 2-3 month wait before they could even begin the complete reconstruction of the leg. They have to wait to see if the muscle, veins and arteries that they moved, from his stomach to his leg, are going to take before they can begin the Orthopedic part of the reconstruction. This means that dad has to keep his leg elevated, above his heart, for the next couple of months.

Needless to say when we heard this news on Saturday, November 14th, we were pretty frustrated. We were then given our Case Manager’s name and told that she was going to meet with us on Monday to go over everything in detail.

In the meantime mom and I were doing everything we could to make sure dad was comfortable. We were also doing our best not to burst into laughter when he was relaying his stories about the doctors having their lunch, in front of him, at a tiki bar on the beach…while he was starving and waiting for them to operate. Morphine…GOOD STUFF! He was also insisting that mom find out who the Federal Agents were that were trying to take over the hospital, because he didn’t want to have to pay both the hospital and the government for all of these procedures.

He was sweating profusely when we got back to his room that day, . Mom was wiping him down with paper towels when we noticed his oxygen wasn’t attached. At the same time, he was complaining about how badly his leg hurt. Mom found his pain pump wrapped around the monitors that had been moved away from his bed. I asked the Nurse if there was a reason why they had taken away his oxygen and pain pump. Her response, without an apology, was “Oh, I forgot!” HUH???? I could’ve sworn ICU stood for Intensive Care Unit…stupid me!

So, we excitedly drove back to the hospital Monday morning, November 16th. We were finally going to get some answers to the hundreds questions we had been asking people for well over a week. It was 9:30 in the morning and we went directly to the Nurses’ station on his floor and asked to see the Case Manager. We were told that she had been paged, but must be in a meeting because she was not answering.

While we were visiting dad I walked back out there at least two more times…still no answer. Then, a couple of hours later, mom went back out to the desk and asked again. She was then told, point blank “She’s on vacation this week.” No other explanation - no attempt to offer any help…just “She’s on vacation!” Needless to say…MOM LOST IT!

We had to take an elevator from the seventh floor, down to the first, storm into the Administrative Offices, and literally throw a temper tantrum, to get someone to talk to us. We are talking twelve days after he had been admitted to this place, and finally someone sat down with us.

At that point we had people jumping through hoops, for just a brief period of time, trying to get us the answers we needed. But that was very short lived.

Another Case Manager had been assigned, one who was either perturbed by the fact that we threw our little hissy fits, or she just had a lot of attitude. Nevertheless, she was not very helpful, and we were right back at square one, where we couldn’t get a straight answer (or the same answer twice) from anyone in that hospital.

Without going into too many details, if my parents were the “Sue-happy” type of people, that hospital would have a huge lawsuit on their hands, but they are not. However, I am appalled at the way the staff in that hospital treated my parents. A hospital is the last place in the world where you should feel like you are putting the staff out of their way by asking for help…THAT IS THEIR JOB!

So now, dad gets to spend (at least) the next few weeks in a rehab in Bandera, Texas, just hoping and praying that nothing goes wrong with the new flap in his leg. And if all goes well there, he gets to start all over with the surgery process in another 2-3 months.

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Comments 16 comments

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 6 years ago from Central Texas

What a horrible experience for you and your parents! I can relate all too well. My story of hospital inefficiencies and total lack of respect is almost identical at another hospital in Texas. I had to get really tough, persistent and angry just to get the minimum amount of info. Hang in there!


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

I literally read this litany of disasters with my jaw dropped to the floor, Wendi! I can't believe a 'hospital' would take such absolutely shoddy 'care' of both your father and his family.

I am so very sorry he has to stay in Texas.

This is appalling...maybe YOU should sue.


Wendi M profile image

Wendi M 6 years ago from New Hampshire Author

Thanks KCC and Laurel. It was quite an experience...one that I wouldn't even wish on my worst enemy!


RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

I regret you and your family's experience with this hospital Wendi. I wish I could say it is uncommon, but unfortunately it is not. I pray your continued strength and perseverance on behalf of your father.


Wendi M profile image

Wendi M 6 years ago from New Hampshire Author

Thank you so much RevLady.


wsp2469 profile image

wsp2469 6 years ago from Alta Loma, Ca

Yeah, my uncle almost died because of a motorcycle accident . . . which is why I have ridden other people's cycles but have never had one myself. It's not the safest form of transportation; I admit . . . but it IS fun!


Wendi M profile image

Wendi M 6 years ago from New Hampshire Author

I agree WSP, but all of this is making me rethink the riding with no helmet thing!


resspenser profile image

resspenser 6 years ago from South Carolina

Do wear a helmet, PLEASE!

Hope your dad is better. I am 58 and thinking that it is probably time to sell my Triumph. I can not imagine riding at his age.

Awful hub, I mean great hub!


Wendi M profile image

Wendi M 6 years ago from New Hampshire Author

I have 2 helmets, and I do plan on wearing one of them from this point forward. Thank you resspenser.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas

Wendi I'm just stunned and flabbergasted at the poor communication and care your family experienced. I'm not saying Wilford Hall is the "Flagship" they proclaim to be, but I truely cannot imagine anything remotely similar happening there. The surgeons with residents in tow physically go from room to room doing rounds daily. I'm sure most families try to be there during that time to ask questions and get updates. I can't imagine such an important decision such as amputation vs numerous reconstructive surgeries not be discussed with family, since a patient on morphine cannot be considered responsible for medical decisions. Soooo sorry this experience has been more stressful than it needed to be. Drop me a line when you catch your breath.


Wendi M profile image

Wendi M 6 years ago from New Hampshire Author

Thanks RM. We tried so many times in the last 2 weeks to get into the hospital early enought o catch one of the physicians. Each time, they had already made their rounds, and we wound up speaking with a resident who couldn't supply us with many details. The whole surgery issue, in itself, infuriates me. But thanks again, and I will be flying back down on Wednesday again. I will try to reach you while I'm back in town.


Connie -Rasin Guven 6 years ago

Wendi!

Just read your comments. We were shocked.

Please get a lawyer. They can go wonders.You do not have to sue them. But a lawyer can scare the heck out of them.You can get better results. We pray for Brad and all. Take care


Wendi M profile image

Wendi M 6 years ago from New Hampshire Author

Thank you Connie.


MagicStarER profile image

MagicStarER 6 years ago from Western Kentucky

I hope your dad is doing much better now. If it makes you feel any better, know that you are not alone. Compassion and caring attention are no longer very much a part of our health care delivery system. I have experienced just as bad or worse here in KY.

A friend of mine broke his leg 2 1/2 yrs ago. After 3 days in ICU, they told us he was dying and to call all his family members. (??? from a BROKEN LEG????) Well, they almost killed him, overloading him with IV Dilaudid, which he can not eliminate normally because he has liver disease, and it made his respiratory center in his brain shut down, and he had to be put on life support, went into a coma for 3 days!

They left him lay in a bed in ICU for 11 days with a broken thigh (broken all the way through!) with no support, no brace, nor a cast of any kind, which caused the bones to become displaced, requiring surgery. The orthopedic surgeons in this city were all "on vacation". Finally, one got back and did the surgery, put a plate in to hold the bone together...

We got him out of there as fast as we possibly could - they brought him home on a stretcher, with hospice care, saying he would be dead in 6 weeks or less. They loaded him up with all kinds of mood-altering stuff that made him sit in a corner and drool - had to prop him up with pillows...

So we got rid of them, too!

I put him on some herbal medicine for his liver, which straightened him out fast. Did some home style physical therapy to get him so he could sit up again and get strong enough to dress and feed himself, transfer himself, etc - took about 5 months, plus set-backs.

But it has been over 2 and a half years now. And he is not dead!

(He would have been dead for sure if we had not gotten him out of that hospital, and sent Hospice Care packing!)

It is lucky that I was around. I am an RN and I sneaked his chart and read it... And I knew what was wrong and knew what to do to get him well again. But most people are not lucky enough to count on that...

It is very sad, what our health care system has become. It makes me sick.

I sure hope your Dad is getting better. Don't be afraid to ask for second opinions! And don't let them bully you, nor let them pump him full of psychotropic drugs, either! :(

Love to you!


Wendi M profile image

Wendi M 6 years ago from New Hampshire Author

Thank you MagicStar. I am so sorry you had to go through all of that.


rkhyclak profile image

rkhyclak 6 years ago from Ohio

Goodness sake Wendi, that is terrible. I'm a nurse and honestly, I am appalled by what your family was put through. I hope your dad is doing well. I just stumbled upon your hubs-they are wonderful.

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