Barnes & Noble Review
September 23, 2015
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September 18, 2015
September 22, 2015
RECENT COLUMNS & NEWS
In The Healing of America, journalist T.R. Reid considers what other countries’ health care systems can teach us.
Sexual assault is excused as normal and forgivable. It’s not. Ask the women who’ve experienced it.
At the start of my shift, at 7 a.m., my patient, newly admitted a few days before for a blood cancer, was talking and acting normally. By the end of my shift, 12 hours later, she had grown confused and her speech was garbled. A CT scan revealed bleeding in her brain. She was sent to intensive care and died the next day.
A few years ago at a meeting of the ad hoc ethics committee at my hospital, we were discussing the issues that arise when treating obese patients. Someone brought up the case of an ICU patient, a young woman who weighed 500 pounds. The ICU nurses complained, sometimes loudly, every time she needed to be moved. Their grousing appalled our chief medical ethicist, but I understood the nurses’ reactions. They likely feared incurring a serious injury from lifting such a heavy patient. This conundrum—how do nurses safely provide high-quality care for people who are obese—will become ever more relevant as the prevalence of obesity in the United States continues to rise.
I am a home hospice nurse, and when I get new patients after they have been discharged from the hospital, the list of drugs included in their paperwork is always wrong. Some mistakes are minor: The list includes a relatively harmless drug the patient no longer needs or it leaves off a minor dose adjustment. But other mistakes are more serious — the list may include an important prescription the patient never knew to fill or may have the patient on two medications that can be dangerous when taken together.
I felt her arms around me, firm and strong. 'This is treatable,' she said, soothing my fear. 'They can cure this'
The diagnosis of cancer, when it comes, is like having a bucket of icy cold water thrown hard into your face. Fine one minute, in the next the vision blurs from the smack of fluid, and the pain from the cold is so sharp the skin feels pierced. There’s a sense of injury, the asking of why, the realization that this unbearable soaking wetness defines the new normal of one’s life.
Most nurses probably don't know enough about the economics of health care and health care policymaking in this country. The idea that the provision of health care occurs within a complex political and economic system barely comes up in nursing schools—even though health care costs make up roughly one-sixth of the U.S. economy, and the public–private system under which health care is financed and provided drives many policy decisions.