Sunday, September 18, 2011

When Nursing and Medical Care Seems so Uncaring

Have you ever been in a hospital where nurses, student nurses, in addition to doctors (residents, junior residents, and senior residents) constantly monitor your vital signs to the point where your vital signs deteriorate or run amuck because of lack of sleep on your part? I have. It was neither a pleasant experience nor one I'd care to repeat.

I won't bother mentioning the hospital's name because it is a hospital with an attached medical and nursing school with a high passing rate in the board exams.

Admitted for high blood pressure problems (my blood pressure was shooting to as high as 180/110), it was quite understandable why monitoring my vital sign was important. The doctors needed to control my blood pressure. This part I totally agree on.

When the first nurse came in to check my vital signs --- blood pressure, pulse rate, heart rate and temperature --- I voluntarily submitted myself. After all, it was all designed for my own good. I'm not sure but that same nurse was supposed to return every four (4) hours to check the same vital signs. I had no problem with that.

After about an hour, two nurse-looking persons came in (different from the first nurse who took my vital signs). They were pleasant and they were smiling. They introduced their names and told me that they were there to check my vital signs. Huh, okay (though in my mind, I began to wonder: I thought the next checking was after four (4) hours?). Oh well, I guess the doctors changed their minds and decided that my vital signs should be checked every hour (?). In addition to checking my vital signs, the two nurse-looking girls (they were, I later found out nursing students doing their practicum) also asked me about my medical history (why I was there,how long have I had blood pressure problems, what were my symptoms, what medications were I taking, who in the family had it, etc.) Again, I wondered, aren't all these in my medical charts already. I was asked the same questions when I was admitted. Oh well, I thought, maybe the hospital was just making sure they got everything correctly.

After the nursing students left, a young doctor came in and also took my vital signs and also asked me questions about my medical history (questions which I felt were already answered by me). After the young doctor, another older doctor came in and did the same. (Don't they have a centralized repository of medical information about me? Why was I answering the same questions?).

This wasn't funny anymore. I was already getting tired. Worse, my blood pressure, despite the medications introduced, wasn't improving. How could it improve? I could barely get enough sleep with medical personnel coming in and out of my room, waking me up with their questions and blood pressure monitoring gauges, among others.

It was starting to become ridiculous (and irritating), especially when the initial medical personnel in charge of my case were replaced by other medical personnel. The endorsement process was a repetition of the entire process. A new nurse, new nursing students, another junior resident, another senior resident. They all did the same ---- monitored my vital signs and asked me questions.

I feel that it doesn't take a doctor to know that a person with a high blood pressure has to rest. I did not get any from that hospital. On the third day (when my blood pressure was starting to go down to 150/100, from one that shuffled between 180/100 to 170/100), I decided to talk to my doctor and told him that I would just rest at home. I told him that it was the hospital itself that was the source of my lack of sleep and irritation which aggravated by blood pressure. Fortunately, my doctor told me that he would leave instructions at the nurses' station for medical personnel not to take my vital signs nor wake me up when I am asleep. On the night these instructions were given by my doctor, I was able to sleep well and lo and behold, the next day, my blood pressure returned to normal (130/100). Later that day, since my blood pressure was already under control, I was recommended for discharge.

Had I not voiced my concerns to my doctor, my blood pressure would have worsened with every attempt by medical personnel to wake me up and monitor my vital signs and ask me questions. It is quite unfortunate that there are some people in the medical profession who miss the point of their existence: they are there to care for the patient. They are not there simply to gather data or information about the patient. They are there to make sure that whatever it is they are doing are for the best interests of their patients. Sadly, they overlooked one important thing I needed to get well: more than monitored blood pressure and vital signs, I sorely needed sleep and rest. They did not care about it. They were like mercenaries minding their own business and mercilessly gathering what they had to. When nursing and medical personnel do this, they become uncaring and they don't have any business in a profession were care and compassion is of paramount importance.

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