A heart attack is NOT an emergency, people!

Or at least one hospital doesn’t seem to think so

My father is one of the most loyal men in the world–to a fault. He is moral, he is humble, and he wants to be cooperative, especially in medical situations. These characteristics I admire so much about him–except when he is a patient. You see my father has heart disease. He has had multiple heart caths, one heart attack, and multiple issues with the stents in his coronary arteries. My dad modifies his diet, works out daily, takes so many cardiac medications, yet his genetics are just crappy. It’s sad really. But worse than that, he trusts incompetent physicians. He is loyal, remember? And he doesn’t want to rock the boat, so when he goes to the emergency room at a particularly *awesome* hospital in Southaven, Mississippi, and they fail to provide even minimal care, he goes back, again and again. So, it’s partially his fault. The fact that the care is absolutely abysmal is not his fault.

I won’t go into past experiences at that hospital too much except to say that on one admission, the one in which he had his heart attack,  they made him wait 4 hours to get his heart cath because they are *so* awesome. WTF.

Well, tonight my dad experienced chest pain and shortness of breath. He feels like his stents must be failing and is probably right (he is very attune to his body) and returned to this craptastic hospital against my wishes because they clearly want to kill him. He arrived a little after 4pm.  They triaged him immediately, got an EKG, and asked if he’d had a dose of aspirin. He said he’d had his scheduled 81mg the previous evening. Then nothing. NOTHING.  A doctor came by, explained that they were very “backed up”, and that they would get to him eventually.  Two hours later, my dad had not seen anyone, and was experiencing increased chest pain and shortness of breath.  A nurse could not be found.  Finally, a nurse arrived and attempted to try and give my dad Aspirin–the first medication offered since his arrival–but the order had still not been put in by the doctor.  At this point my mother gave my father the aspirin from his home meds.  When the nurse finally returned, she was relieved because the aspirin order had still not been put in.  His EKG was now showing arrhythmias, but no worries, there was zero alarm on the parts of the medical staff.  Eventually, the MD arrived to review my father’s medical history and examine him.  When my mother started explaining that the details of a past admission had been documented incorrectly because my father had not been seen in an appropriate time frame similarly to this admission, the physician then said, “You know what, you are being very hostile,” said “I’m going to leave, and when I come back we can try this again,” and left the room without examining my father, who was still having chest tightness and shortness of breath.

At this point, I could no longer accept the incompetence of these medical “professionals” and called the hospital to speak to the house supervisor. I informed her that the “hostile” conversation had been recorded, and that I was concerned that the hospital had not come close to meeting core standards for chest pain. For those of you who do not understand what core measures are, they are national healthcare standards. They are not optional. They are are across the board standards and procedures you MUST follow to be in compliance with national standards. The supervisor stated that she would immediately look into it and called me back and informed me that the nurse had documented that the physician had seen them within 12 minutes of arrival (lie) and that he had been offered aspirin within 20 minutes of arrival but my mother had already given it…

Wut?

I informed the supervisor that it was truly unfortunate that the nurse had chosen to document fraudulent information as my family also had documentation as to the actual sequence of events as well as recordings of my mother being “hostile.” Yeah, Mavis is super hostile when she never raised her voice. While I was on the phone, the doctor threatened to call security. I almost wish they would have. You see, we aren’t crazy. My father is a dentist–an excellent dentist. He’s in line to be the president of the Mississippi Dental Association, and he’s the past president of the Mississippi Board of Dentistry. Not too shabby. My mother is an RN. My sister is an MD, I am an RN. We are not redneck, ignorant, or white trash. We are educated and fluent in hospital protocol, core measures, correct documentation as well as the responsibility of healthcare providers.

The physician returned to the room and said snidely, “Let’s try this again, huh?” And then proceeded to examine my father. This is four hours after his arrival for chest pain. FOUR FREAKING HOURS on a patient with a significant cardiac history and this physician begins his initial assessment of my father. And had the nerve to give a sarcastic, “Thank you,  ladies,” to my mother and sister when he glided out of the room.

So what if my family were not persistent? What if my family were uneducated? Would he have simply been ignored until he died? I bet, and I honestly bet that’s what happens to so many patients who walk into this ER and deal with this MD. So, here’s my advice to the people of North Mississippi:

  1. Do not go to a hospital in North Mississippi when you can jet up to Memphis and meet a competent ER physician.
  2.  Do not allow your family member to be ignored when they are having chest pain.
  3. Do not be afraid to rock the boat. People die when they are compliant to just get along. You MUST fight for your loved ones. Check out this statistic:
    • According to an NPR article, “Now comes a study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher — between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death.”
  4. Realize that not all physicians and nurses are created the same. Some barely scraped by in school and are actually not that smart. Even more are egomaniacs and will try to threaten you into submission.
  5. Document, document, document. Sure, it makes the healthcare team nervous, but you need to keep notes of what is going on and what your loved one is being given
  6. If all else fails, go and loiter at/around the nurses’ station. Nurses hate that and will literally do anything to make you go away #realtalk

People die when nurses and physicians do not do their job. Ask questions. Record interactions, demand answers. Doing so could save lives. Failure to do so, could lead to death. A nurse manager who has now seen my mother said that once a patient says they’ve had aspirin in the past 24 hours that you don’t give anymore. When my mom questioned that, she admitted that, “Well the nurse probably just didn’t know cardiac protocol and should have given aspirin immediately. We can use this as a learning opportunity!” Umm, no. Just…no.

My father is kind, compliant, and loyal to a fault. And tonight he was treated with scorn and derision by an egomaniac who is incompetent to care for even a beetle. And unfortunately for him and that particular establishment, I am a determined individual and choose to blast them on my blog. Which I never do, but as a nurse, it is my responsibility to protect patients. This MD has not heard the last from my family. I feel certain he will regret his cavalier, unprofessional, and ultimately neglectful attitude.

My blog is usually so uplifting (I hope), but tonight, I feel like I need to tell people a hard truth: If you go to the hospital, you are increasing your chance of death. If you don’t question the actions of healthcare providers, you are further increasing your chances. This is coming from a nurse. Love to all. ❤

2 thoughts on “A heart attack is NOT an emergency, people!”

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