Saturday, 6 August 2011

How the sausage is made

This post was inspired by a bank shift yesterday

You're a patient in a hospital in the UK, it's 10am and your consultant has just come 'round on the ward round and told you that you're all better and you can go home! Hooray!

Of course, it's not that simple and the nurse tells you that you need a doctor's letter and some medications to go home with. You smile and say fine, but does the nurse have a general idea when you're going? The nurse thinks you should expect to leave around 2pm, so you call your relative to come pick you up.

So what's happening in the background as you are getting dressed and being congratulated by your ward-mates on your imminent release?

1) Consultant tell nurse-in-charge patient can go home at 10am
2) Junior doctor is told to organise discharge by nurse-in-charge
3) Junior doctor rolls eyes and grumbles about doing it at the end of the ward round
4) Junior doctor promptly forgets entire conversation about this discharge
5) Lunchtime comes and goes, nurse bleeps junior doctor multiple times - gets TTA (list of medications to go home with) and discharge letter by 1pm
6) Nurse notes date on discharge letter is wrong, bleeps junior doctor. Promises to fix letter are made and promptly forgotten
7) Pharmacist gets TTA, processes it promptly
8) Ward gets medications, nurse bleeps junior doctor about discharge letter
9) Nurse fends off irate patient about what is taking so long and how ridiculous it is and how the patient shouldn't self-discharge etc. etc.
10) At 4pm discharge letter is complete. Nurse prints, explains and dispenses TTAs. Patient goes home annoyed but happy (if only to be leaving)

I'd really forgotten how much I hate organising discharges. Give me a sick patient. Give me an oozing, stinking wound. Give tears and fears and innumerate emotional horrors of being in hospital.

Just don't give me a day where I spend it chasing other people to do their job so I can send my patient home. I get so tired of being the face of the machinations described above. Basically, I can't do anything more and yet I get to soak up the anger and frustrations of the patient. It is very, very tiring.

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