Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Email from a Licensed Nurse

The following email was written by a licensed nurse who came across my 5/6/07 blog entry. Under the pseudonym "N=1," she writes the blog Universal Health. I highly recommend it. Her email is presented here, as there may be some of you who will find her advice beneficial, if not now, then at some point in the future ...

Dear Mack:

I found your blog serendipitously as I have a Google alert for the terms nurse and nursing. I write a blog about patient safety, advocacy and professional nursing. I would be happy to support your efforts in getting consistent safe and professional nursing care for your family member.

My blog is titled, Universal Health.

The first thing I can recommend is to notify the attending physician of your concerns—and be specific about the pain medication and thirst (it sounds as if the patient is unable to have fluids by mouth, and so very frequent mouth swabbing (often referred to as oral hygiene) is indicated.

Second, ask to speak with the nursing case manager. This person will be able to intervene on your behalf. Every patient care unit must have by law a nurse who is responsible for the staff of that unit. Usual titles are patient care manager, nurse manager, nursing director—but ask the secretary for that person. If he or she isn't there at that moment, ask to speak with the nursing supervisor—one has to be on site and available at all times.

If none of that works, and you don't see someone within an hour of requesting—or they haven't made a specific appointment to meet with you, then ask to see the COO. That is the operational administrator for the hospital. He or she has the authority to make things happen at all levels and in all departments.

I'm sorry you are having such a stressful experience. Please let me know if I may be of help.