A relative of mine is in the hospital. She was supposed to go in for a quick procedure and be out within twelve to forty-eight hours. She has now been in for nine days. The surgeon unnecessarily delayed in performing the procedure, despite recommendations from her primary care physician and the Emergency Department physician who recommended the procedure. That was an annoyance.
The true problem arose when the staff physical therapist failed to do her job. My relative had orders from the medical attending to receive physical therapy twice per day. In the nine days she has been in the hospital, the physical therapist has spent a grand total of twenty (yes, 20) minutes. As any medical professional will tell you, if a person does not get out of bed and use their muscles, then the muscles will begin to atrophy within a day.
My relative could walk when she went to the hospital. Now, she cannot walk. People are not supposed to get worse when they stay in a hospital.
When we expressed our concerns with the physical therapist, she began to talk over us and then proceeded to blame my relative for not “alerting her” when she failed to return. Yes, that is right, a bed-bound person recovering from surgery is supposed to chase a flighty physical therapist down the hallway.
Well, the “house manager” was eventually called. When he came, I put on my lawyer hat and represented my client. I was able to calmly and rationally explain our concerns about my relative’s treatment. I then discussed the physical therapist’s failure to hear our concerns (i.e. she was filibustering). Finally, I emphasized that it is not the responsibility of a bed-bound patient to chase someone down the hall to beg the therapist to do her job.
My relative was relieved that I stepped in to explain what was going on. The house manager promised a meeting and that someone else would take over my relative’s physical therapy.
Yesterday I was an advocate. Yesterday I made a difference. This is why I’m in law school.