When we need to visit the hospital, it is usually because we have found ourselves in an unexpected and most usually, unwanted situation. We feel vulnerable when we need the care and expertise of others and because of this, we expect (or at the very least, hope) to be treated by compassionate individuals who will know exactly what to do to make us right as rain again.
Be prepared because this article may shake the foundation of the ignorance-is-bliss wishful thinking mindset. The truth is, doctors and nurses are people just like us; humans capable of making mistakes. While that is not a comforting statement, it is one that perhaps will give us some much-needed clarity to be able to see things for what they really are during stressful and emotional times, when our or a loved one’s life may be threatened, even on a small scale. While we may expect people in the medical profession to act in a permanent professional, almost robot-like manner, taking care of us is their job, their 9 to 5 and at the end of the day, though they deal with very sensitive life and death matters, it’s another day of work for them. Even so, most of us could probably do without learning these fifteen unsettling secrets that hospitals don’t want us to know.
15. Hospitals Peek At Your Credit Reports
This true hospital factoid gives us the absolute creeps. Why does a doctor need to look at our credit scores? What do one’s personal finances have to do with saving lives and providing preventative medicine? If our credit history is not up to par, will we be turned away even if we require immediate lifesaving treatment? If this disturbing knowledge makes you uneasy as well, allow us to present you with the queasy cherry on top. Some hospitals have even started looking into the credit card limits of patients and in cases, their 401k information. Understandably, once this information hit the public forums, it was met with some serious backlash. The privacy issue is obviously a huge concern but many patients were offended as well and became suspicious of potential ulterior motives on the hospital’s part. When you’re sick and in need of professional care, your credit score is the last thing you want to be worrying about.
14. Doctors Ask For Help… From Google
Most of us were raised to idolize doctors, assuming that their knowledge and passion for the career they dedicated their lives to is bigger than life. But in all reality, doctors are just people and not even people like the fictional Dr. House. While it is true that they must have an extensive knowledge of medicine, treatments, and the human body in general, if a patient were to walk in off of the street with a rare disease, chances are likely that the average doctor would have to rack his or her brain for the details of said disease that they covered for say, thirty minutes total back in medical school. Why not take advantage of the vast and seemingly unlimited supply of knowledge that the internet has to offer? Plus the internet will have up to date news on the disease if there is any. Coupled with their treatment know-how, that makes for a great start to recovery. It’s just that hearing that your doctor steps out of the room to google a disease isn’t very comforting. But as one doctor put it, “There’s a reason we keep all those giant, impressive books in our offices.”
13. Medical Identity Theft
Similar to ID theft, medical theft occurs when someone steals personal information from an unsuspecting innocent party. Unlike ID theft, the object of this conning is to use someone else’s health benefits to cover the sick con man or woman’s care rather than to cover the costs of the ID theft’s online shopping bill. As risky as this sounds, many people are able to pull this off. Currently, around 1.5 million people in America have had their name and personal healthcare info stolen and used by others at one point in time. While this is a crime, law enforcement is not set up to handle these kinds of theft situations as they are with ID theft. So make sure that you secure your information at all times and be diligent about opening mail from medical facilities. If something doesn’t look right, contact the medical office right away. Hospitals are not happy about this information getting released to the public because they are not able to provide a surefire solution for the problem yet.
12. Doctors Learn On The Job
Try this scenario on for size: you are waiting in your local hospital for the nice doctor to come in for a not-nice procedure – a spinal tap. But you know it must be done so you put on a brave face. What you do not know is that the doctor has never done this procedure before and only moments ago watched an instructional video… on YouTube. You, unknowing patient, will be his first
victim attempt. You’re drugged but still conscious and awake as the long needle is driven into your spine. You groggily hear “I don’t think I got it in the right place” and another, more seasoned doctor attempts to yank the needle out. But fails. Because it’s stuck in your spine. It finally gets removed but it’s bent and damaged. Do you freak out? Nope, you know none of this thanks to the anesthetic. The scariest thing about this scenario is that it’s a completely true story. For certain procedures, the only way to learn is to practice on a live patient. Pro tip: ask your doctor how long he’s been in the game and possibly get proof before allowing anyone near your spine with a long-tipped needle.
11. Bills May Be Negotiable
Every hospital is different with different policies but you’ll never know unless you ask. It may sound crazy but sometimes, bills for certain procedures can be negotiable. Some hospitals have been able to drop the total price of the bill by a third or more. Sometimes asking to speak to a hospital billing specialist can be helpful. Discounts may be available to you that you’re not even aware of. Being in pain is no fun at all and the only thing that’s worse is paying to have no fun at all. If the hospital is able to reduce your bill, even just a bit, welcome the discount with open, hopefully ache-free arms. The bottom line is that it doesn’t hurt to ask.
10. Deaths Related Hospital Errors Spike In July (When Everyone Graduates…)
Happy Graduation! Not. One secret that hospitals don’t want patients to know for fear of stress and panic is one that we should have figured out but if we are spending time in a hospital for any reason, we’ve probably got our minds on other things. July is “dads and grads” month after all… emphasis on grads. When medical students graduate and are brand spanking new to clipping the Dr. name badge on, you would probably be better off insisting that you see that tried and true Doc on staff even if there is a humongous wait. That is because deaths due to hospital medication errors are said to spike by ten percent in the month of July. But can this tragic number be blamed on newbies picking up their first residencies? Many think so.
9. Secret Codes And Non-Existent Doctors
As to not cause a flurry of panic in the hospital, codes are valuable among staff. Here are some of the main ones so now you’ll be in the know. You may or may not thank us for this. Code pink is not adorable, it means there is a biohazard contamination in the hospital. Codes gray, green and silver all indicate a combative person is in the hospital, at varying degrees of combativeness.
Doctor codes like “Dr. Pyro” and “Dr. Firestone” might sound obvious but if you’re recovering from an operation or worried about a loved one, chances are you might be too busy to notice anything funny about “Paging Dr. Pyro on 2 West” but now you’ll know that it means there’s a fire on the second floor, east wing. “Dr. Strong” sends the message that immediate physical assistance is required for restraint of some sort. “Dr. Allcome” lets staff know to well, all come for an emergency. “Dr. Brown” signals a threat to personnel.
8. The Rise Of Bedsores
One easy way to avoid common hospital ailment but easy to forget in terms of preventative care for nurses is bedsores. Bedsores are the bane of many patients’ existence, so to say. At least those who are confined to their hospital beds for a long period of time. As for nurses, it can look like sloppy, unprofessional and even neglectful treatment when a patient under their care comes down with a nasty bedsore or two. They can quickly become infected and lead to more medical issues if not spotted and treated right away. Luckily, they can be prevented by changing positions every couple of hours, making sure the patient’s skin is clean and dry and relieving pressure as needed. Unfortunately, the number of patients with bedsores has been climbing lately. One nurse confessed that this is because it is simply difficult to oversee an ever-increasing round of patients. Changing the patients every couple of hours is hard to remember when more patients get added to the list at an overwhelming frequency. So… bedsores it is?
7. Doctors And Nurses Relax And Have Fun While Patients Die
But not for any other reason than to save their own sanity. It is hard to have a job in which you must face the reality that you can never do enough. There’s a never-ending demand for care. How can we have too much care available to us? But doctors and nurses and everyone else in the medical profession must find a way to realize that they work a job and when it’s time, they have to take time for themselves to grab a nap, a meal, check email and watch funny fail videos like the rest of us. We should want them to make sure they take this time for themselves so they can be in the best state to properly care for us but it’s hard to know that while patients are dying and in need of care, doctors and nurses are in break rooms, snoozing and checking Pinterest.
6. ER Staff Notices Our Trends And Categorize Us Accordingly!
No one likes to be stereotyped but it happens. But when ER doctors see the same trends happening over and over again, it’s hard not to place patients in categories. One doctor said that he and his colleagues noticed that young men with tattoos tend to pass out while getting stitched up over women of all ages and the elderly. So when faced with a bro in need of stitches, the doctors have them lie down right away, knowing that they are likely to pass out anyway. They also know that Mondays are going to be the absolute worst. Always. This is because there are so many people who would rather wait with their minor issues (that could have been taken care of with their primary doctor) over the weekend in order to be seen in the ER on Monday, thus earning them a day off of work and a valuable doctor’s note.
5. Hospital Staff Is Judging Us!
One doctor talked about “compassion fatigue” which is common in doctors and nurses who have been around the block a time or two. He said that it’s hard to feel sympathy for someone screaming in pain due to a pulled muscle over a patient who is quietly bleeding in a corner. The squeaky wheel does not get the grease in cases like these. His major annoyances over the years have included people who are not small children bringing in stuffed animals to accompany them, parents who have other luxuries in hand but say they couldn’t afford their children’s medicine and big babies (basically) who have refused to treat their minor aches with a simple over the counter pain reliever and then wind up coming to the doctor in “uncontrollable pain.” If any of these sound like something you might do, don’t expect any sympathy from your doc.
4. Risk Of Infections
You know the old saying, go into the hospital and come out sicker than when you went in? It’s a saying for a reason, as scary as that is. Currently, there are around 1.7 million cases of patients suffering from infections they received in the hospital every year. Scarier? 99,000 of patient deaths in hospitals are due to these infections. The number for hospital-caused infections hits closer to home than you might think. Around 1 in 25 patients get a hospital-acquired infection and around 20% of those are from incisions. If a hospital worker doesn’t practice good (and mandatory, quite frankly) hygiene or if equipment isn’t throughly disinfected, a patient is just a step away from an infection that could be life-threatening. You can take charge by looking up your local hospital’s infection rates before you check in. If they seem high, maybe a trip to the next town or city over is in order.
3. They Talk Smack About Us And We Have No Idea!
If they were going to compliment us, they wouldn’t need code names. If you’re due for a trip to the hospital and have thick skin, here are some of the most commonly used top-secret doctor and nurse lingo, decoded just for you. If you hear talk about giving you an “SFU 50 dose”, that’s a clue that you might be driving the staff crazy. SFU 50 means “shut the f*** up” dose and is an anti-anxiety medication. A “whiney primey” is a pregnant woman who constantly comes into the hospital claiming to be in labor when she isn’t. Concern for her, annoyance to hospital staff. If you overhear hospital staff calling your child an “FLK” you’ll have a right to be upset. Funny-looking kid, is what they are telling each other. If you hear that someone on your floor is suffering from “incarceritis” it means there’s a prisoner nearby who presumably faked an illness to temporarily get out of jail. “Frequent flyers” are those who the hospital staff gets to know by name.
2. Get To Know Your Anesthesiologist
If you’re going to the hospital for an operation, you may not remember your anesthesiologist but he or she may be one of the most important people to you during your stay and by that, we mean that we hope your stay is not permanent. This is because an anesthesiologist who is anything less than perfectly competent and 100% on their game can cause a patient massive harm and yes, even death. Many patients do not realize this but they can request to interview anesthesiologists prior to the surgery to make sure that they feel completely comfortable moving forward with the operation. It may seem like a strange thing to do but it could save your life and at the very least, will put your mind at ease a bit since there’s enough to worry about when it comes to surgery.
1. Hospital Wait Times
We all grumble when we have to go to the DMV and wait in that line of hell and people-watching delight. The one place where a line like that could actually kill you is the hospital. But thanks to an ever-growing human population, it’s a frightening reality at many hospitals. A study was conducted where patients who presented themselves with serious illnesses and conditions that needed to be seen in fourteen minutes or less or else life-threatening situations could occur, had to wait more than twice as long for their name to be called. From movies and TV shows, most of us have images of rushing to the hospital where a gaggle of orderlies, nurses and doctors are waiting to rush you inside but unfortunately, that’s just not the case in the real world.
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