Wednesday, February 08, 2012

February 8, 2012 – A Visiting Nurse Comes to Call

My surgery went well, or so the doctor tells me.  I was discharged from the hospital after one night, with a catheter, and am now recuperating at home.

This morning I had a call from a visiting nurse.  She was here about 45 minutes, all told, and spent all but about 5 minutes of that time taking medical history and filling out legal-consent and billing forms. She took a quick glance at the catheter bag and told me what I can expect in the hours to come. A different nurse will come tomorrow and, if all continues to go well, remove the catheter.

OK, I understand this was an intake visit for a new patient, and the home-nursing agency is now on call 24/7 between now and tomorrow morning in case I should experience any difficulty – but, still, the ratio of time devoted to administration as compared to actual medical treatment seems more than a little skewed.

I thought it was a total waste of time going over my medical history and dictating my medications list to the visiting nurse, when this information could easily have been forwarded by my doctor or the hospital.

As pleasant and – I assume – as competent as the nurse was, the visit was a case study of all that’s wrong with American medicine today.  It was a tale of compartmentalized agencies, separated by a wall of bureaucratic HIPAA regulations, failing to communicate essential information with each other....  An experienced R.N., spending just shy of 90% of her time on paperwork that’s more important to the attorneys and the accountants than it is to the patient....  An insurance company, bailing on their responsibility to cover another couple of days in the hospital, sending a medically-unqualified patient home to maintain his own catheter.

Thankfully, I’ve experienced no complications or problems so far.  But it could easily have been otherwise.

What is wrong with this picture?

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