Friday, August 20, 2010

A Month of Hospital Stays

The last month has been a particularly trying one for me and Mom. She has had two hospital stays within a three week period and is now in a rehab facility to regain some of the strength she lost after being contained to her bed for so long.

To be brief:

• First hospital stay was due to infectious colitis (a virus or bacteria that attacks the colon and causes inflammation)

• Second hospital stay was for c.diff (Clostridium difficile, often called "C. diff," is a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Illness from C. diff most commonly affects older adults in hospitals or in long term care facilities and typically occurs after use of antibiotic medications.)

What was really shocking to me, and what I’d like to discuss here for those of you who have parents in and out of hospitals, was the mistake the hospitals made with mom’s medications. I am curious if anyone else has experienced the same.

My mother’s medication list and schedule were faxed over from the rest home to the first hospital where a worker transcribed the list onto the hospital’s form. The worker apparently didn’t read closely enough and transcribed “300 mgs of seroquel, ½ tablet (150 mgs), once in the evening” to “300 mgs of seroquel once per day.”

Luckily I was there when my mother was being given her morning meds and was able to clear up the issue before she was given the wrong dose at the wrong time. I chalked this up to a one chance in a thousand mistake until the same exact transcription error happened at the second hospital which is totally unaffiliated with the first!

Unfortunately I was not there to catch the error and Ma had been given two doses over two mornings. Her blood pressure dropped to below 85 on the top, she was extremely weak, slurring her words, and unable to sit up. The doctors became very concerned and rechecked her meds and noticed the error.

Needless to say, the first thing I did when going into the rehab center was personally check the med list with the nurse, pointing out the seroquel doses specifically and requesting to see the transcription when it was done.

It is so clear that my duties as mom’s caregiver did not end when she went into the rest home. In fact, I’ve had to become a more vigilant advocate of my mother’s health now that we are dealing with more organizations responsible for her care (rest home, hospitals, etc.).

Good news is she is on the road to recovery and we believe her rehab stay will only be about a week long. After that, she’ll return to the rest home and I’ll return to my consideration of taking her back home, which seems more unlikely after these hospital stays.

10 comments:

  1. Good to know how things are going for you, Lisa, and for your mom. Glad she is on the mend. Whoever said "Old age isn't for sissies" had it right. And it is a good message for others to check and double check even when others are doing the care-giving. Not excusing the nurses who made the error, but they are human beings and make mistakes like all of us. Even so, their mistakes can be costly. Take care, my Friend.

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  2. Good work Lisa. There were also screw ups with my dad's meds. He too had c-diff. It was horrible. Glad things are getting cleared up. That stuff is terrible.

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  3. Thank you Nancy and JL. Yes, c-diff really is awful. My mother was so sick and weak! But she is back to her perky self :-). On my way to rehab now.

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  4. Lisa,
    I am glad things are on the upswing for you. Your absence had be worried.

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  5. Andrea, hi! I wanted to respond to your question in my other posting. Do you have an email address?

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  6. Yes Lisa.....adeluca56@gmail.com

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  7. Yup, this is all too familiar. When my father would go in and out of the hospital they always messed up his dosages or would give him Ativan of which he was not to have due to aggrivation. I finally just told them he was allergic to it. But I realized I needed to be present in the beginning of every hospital visit for this reason. Oh and dont get me started on the ER Staff asking him questions and taking them as fact....when I just told them he had dementia.

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  8. Peaches, yes! Asking questions of a dementia person and taking them as fact! Arrrggghhhhhh. We are back at the hospital. What a fiasco again. it is so discouraging.

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  9. HEY LISA,
    MY THOUGHTS ARE WITH YOU AND YOUR FAMILY DAILY. lET ME KNOW WHERE i CAN SEND SOMETHING TO YOUR MOM. IN THE MEANWHILE, IF YOU EVER NEED TO TAKE AN HOUR BREAK, I AM ALWAYS UP FOR TEA!!!
    XOXOX

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