Sunday, May 15, 2005

Is This Any Way to Run A Hospital?: The big deal was that last weekend required an urgent trip down to DC that, among other things, required me to spend some time inside a hospital (just as a visitor). Hospitals are truly disquieting places. They are like hotels, but with really, really bad service. But the most unnerving thing is how disorganized and confused everyone seems all the time. It's almost as if the only reason you get any treatment is that a deeply harried nurse happened upon you at the right time. And then, you're lucky if she happens to be familiar with the treatment you need. Or she didn't misread your chart. Or accidentally wander into the wrong room.

Case in point, one nurse upon noting that the alarm was beeping and flashing on an I.V., walked over to it, gave it a look of total confusion, and pressed the "silence" button, then went about her business without any concern for why the alarm was going off and without a reassuring word to pass on, like "That's nothing serious, I'll get someone to come in and check it," just complete indifference to the fact that a flashing red light labeled alarm on a device that was feeding chemicals into the patient's arm was going off. The service industry equivalent would be responding to a complaint about a fly in the soup by taking the customer's soup spoon and fishing it out, then walking away without a word, except in a situation where the customer just had surgery and was dependent on the soup of continued existence (I'm straining for the analogy, I know). Seriously, these hospitals ought to farm out their operations to Ritz-Carlton. At least they could train them to knock before entering a room.

I will grant that this was the only hospital I've ever been to that had valet parking. That was cool. No turn down service though...