Friday, November 13, 2009

Open Letter to Hospital President

Below is a letter I'm sending to the President of the Hospital where I was treated last July after being hit by a car while biking. I have no intention of suing. I just want the problems fixed, so nobody ever has to experience this kind of treatment again.

Dear Mr. Hospital President,

On August 27, I wrote you about aspects of care at your hospital that were less than satisfactory. I wrote you again on October 13, specifically about the x-ray problems. I have written additional letters to the ombudsman. I have visited with the radiology department. I am still concerned that the problems that I encountered, that caused me to have surgery that I would have refused if I had seen my own x-ray and been properly informed of the nature of the surgery, persist at your hospital and other patients are in jeopardy.

When I wrote to the person, who developed the microcurrent device and who trains your hospital's physical therapists in its use, she redesigned her training to make sure nobody else would experience the loss of strength that I had.

When I wrote the chair of Rehabilitation Medicine, about Rotten Rehab Doc's practice of administering painful and frightening tests without permission or explanation, the chair talked with Rotten Rehab Doc.

When I wrote you about blatant violations of patient rights as you described them on the hospital website, the only action I know of was my invitation to visit Radiology, where I was informed that there are no laptop computers on which patients are shown x-rays. Since my husband and I both saw the same x-ray on the same laptop, and my husband drew a sketch of the shattered clavicle in the x-ray, we know it did happen.

I will repeat the sequence of events here because each step needs to be addressed:

1) When I was transferred to your hospital from the one nearest my accident, which had no room for me in Trauma, my husband handed a full set of x-rays, including a CT scan of my head to Trauma. These x-rays and the CT scan were duplicated at your hospital, with the exception of the hip x-ray. They should not have been duplicated.

2) The first I learned of the surgery was when I asked for food and was told, "You can't have food. You are having surgery." No surgery other than emergency life-saving surgery should be scheduled without first talking with the patient.

3) I asked why I was having surgery. That is when one, or possibly two, young men brought in the laptop with the picture of the shattered clavicle that belonged to someone else. You have stated that it is not hospital policy to present x-rays to patients on laptop computers. This policy is not being followed.

The young men who showed me the laptop computer did not tell me what the surgery involved, what side-effects were likely, or what would happen if I did not have the surgery. They did not offer to delay the surgery to see if it would heal on its own. I was on opiates. I could not clearly ask the necessary questions. Nobody volunteered the information I needed.

4) I was brought the "informed consent form." No one offered to read it to me. I could not read for about a month after the accident. I signed it without knowing that I had not seen my own x-ray and without knowing what the surgery was, because I believed that the shattered clavicle I had seen was mine. I did not learn that my clavicle only had a simple break until I received my x-rays from the hospital. Also, when I went to radiology, I learned that there were several other x-rays of my chest that had not been included on the CDs given me. Since the concern was with my clavicle, I see no need to continually x-ray my entire chest, considering the risks of DNA damage.

In addition, I suggest that you reduce the authority of residents to order CT scans.
After having 2 sets of 5 mm CT scans and an MRI of my head and neck, none of which showed any injury to the back of my head or my neck, a female resident came into my room and insisted that I needed a 1 mm CT scan of the back of my head because of my black eyes. She said that black eyes indicate a fracture at the base of the skull. She seemed unaware that I had a broken nose, which is a common cause of black eyes.

My husband told her that the left black eye was from the impact of the accident and that the right black eye was much more recent. He asked her not to do the CT scan. It was not necessary. I landed on my face, not the back of my head. She took me anyway and put me in that machine for a 3rd time, and ran a 1mm CT scan of my entire head. She didn't even bother to report back that she didn't find any injury to the back of my head. I can understand that a new doctor who has recently read a textbook might think my black eyes indicated an injury to the back of my head. A more experienced doctor would know that the existing CT scans and MRI ruled that out. The resident should not have been allowed to take me to the CT scanner over my husband's objections in any case.

And as a final point, the food at your hospital is inedible and unhealthy. The one meal I had in my 4 days there consisted of chicken that tasted like cardboard and a bunch of sweet stuff (melted ice cream, instant pudding, lemonade) that I did not want. There was no fresh fruit or salad. I asked the nurse if my taste buds were being weird or if the chicken was really that bad. She said the chicken was really that bad. Other patients had told her that they couldn't eat it, either.

These are all fixable problems. Please tell me what you are doing to fix them.


  1. This could not be better written or clearer. They still fear lawsuits, however, and do not want to admit any need to change any practices. I will be very interested to hear what comes next!

  2. My husband plans to write the President and Ombudsman next week. If they do not respond by the end of the month, we're going to find out what state agency accredits hospitals, and try to work this out at that level.