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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 9/12/13

From Speedy Release to 'Bounce-Back:' Hospitals Under the Thumb

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Message Phyllis Reed

A column on "Reducing Hospital 'Bounce-Backs'"  in the September AARP News Bulletin reported that patient confusion about their medications was a main reason that one in five Medicare beneficiaries returned to the hospital within 30 days.

I'm one of the one-in-five Medicare beneficiaries who returned to the hospital in fewer than 30 days, but not for the reasons cited in the article.  I was admitted to a second hospital within 24 hours because the first hospital failed to monitor me overnight after a cardio-angiogram procedure.

Given a fast-acting conscious sedative, Versed, plus Benadryl to counteract any dye reaction, I was discharged three hours after the procedure began and released into a dangerous situation.

As my daughter drove us home from the hospital, our conversation suddenly ended:  she was terrified to see my eyes in a blank stare, mouth wide open, and my left hand shaking.  I was completely unresponsive to her calls.  She began to veer into the next lane of traffic, but recovered in time to pull off and call the hospital we'd left twenty-five minutes before.  The nurses did not tell her to bring me back there.  One told her to take me to my daughter's house.   She took me instead to our hometown hospital ten minutes away where I was admitted to the ER.  I only became conscious when three aides pulled me out of the passenger seat into a wheelchair.  

At first, I couldn't make my brain work long enough to tell what had happened and why I got an angiogram.  After a CT of my head (negative), I was  admitted to the hospital where I stayed overnight on an IV.   I was discharged the next evening to stay at my daughter's until strong enough to return to my condo several days later.

Both my hospital nurse and my internist felt that my episode (something I've never experienced before) was due to the Versed, which they called a "strong drug," a benzodiazepine, and reason to be cautious, especially with seniors.

A second cardiologist told me that an angiogram procedure can dislodge a piece of calcium from the artery blockage, release it into the bloodstream, and cause a TIA.

For all the above reasons, the need to monitor angiogram patients overnight is clear.  Insurance company "move-'em-on-out" pressure on hospitals is all too common, leaving patients old and young to deal with the unknown and, indeed, 'bounce back' into the hospital.  In my case, almost four weeks later, I'm still noticeably weak, but a lot wiser and wondering when our country is going to extract our healthcare system from the grip of the insurance companies.

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Freelance writer, activist, composer, retired from nonprofit journalism educational foundation.
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