Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wife of Bath's Tale - Chaucer Got it Right

In the Wife of Bath's Tale, in Canterbury Tales, a rapist is given one year to find out what women want. The answer he finds, that saves his life, is "Women want to be able to choose for themselves."

This is the lesson that the hospital I was in after being hit by a car while biking hasn't learned.

The President of the hospital has posted this statement of patient rights on the the hospital's website: “You may refuse any drug, treatment or procedure offered by [the hospital] to the extent permitted by law and the policies of this institution.”

I think that means the physicians should have explained their requests for x-rays to me, rather than pushing me into the machines. The final decision should have been mine. In most cases, they didn't even tell me where they were pushing me. My husband did object to the 1mm CT scan, when he learned that it was requested. The resident took me away and put me in the CT machine despite his objections.

The hospital's response to my listing of mistakes is that my unwanted x-rays are "standard of care." The Patient's Right statement does not say, "except when procedures are standard of care." My husband made clear when we arrived that we did not want more x-rays. He gave a full set of x-rays from the overcrowded hospital I was originally in - to the intake people at this hospital. We wanted the right to choose.

The Patients's Rights statement continues: patients have the “right to participate in [their] care and treatment to the fullest extent possible.”

There is no need to go over the many violations of my "patients' rights" that this hospital performed. Read my earlier blogs if you want the details.

Basically they are stonewalling on the majority of items my list of mistakes. And worse yet, refusing to fix these problems so they won't happen again.

I'm not asking for apologies. I'm not asking for admission of wrong doing. I'm asking for the right to choose. A right which is guaranteed in their published statement of Patient Rights. A right recognized as necessary and celebrated by Chaucer as early as the year 1400. A right which can only be protected by hospital protocols that clearly do not exist.

I wrote the President of the hospital: "I want to be able to rely on your hospital for health care. That is why I’m trying to help you by pointing out places where your hospital needs to improve. The only way to improve is to devise protocols that will keep these mistakes from happening again."

These protocols must keep a patient's right to choose paramount, even when it is not convenient for scheduling the operating room, or getting residents out of rooms as quickly as possible.

If hospitals want to avoid lawsuits (I'm not suing them) they need to give patients the information they need and then let the patients make their own choices.

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