How to Keep a Relative Alive in the Hospital

Actually, I’m thinking I could write a book on this one. Once my wife needed a spinal tap. I walked in the door as the neurosurgeon from Penn tried vainly to find some CSF. At the third deep plunge of the 4.5″ needle, I warned politely but firmly that I was about to swivel and reposition my wife without breaking the sterile field. After showing this nice doctor how to get her lab specimen without putting my sweetheart in a wheelchair, she most thankfully went away with her sample. It was not the first time.

Once I got a phone call, only hours after leaving my wife’s side in the hospital. It was her kick-ass cousin Davette visiting her soon after, later to become a TSA and security professional. She said “Dan, something real bad is going on, get here quick.” I complied and found my wife talking gibberish.

I went to the nurses station in our nations very first hospital. I asked the nurse to give me my wife’s chart. She explained most politely she could not do so. I explained firmly that I would be doing so in the next 10 seconds, and her only decision to make was how I got it. She handed it over. Chart now firmly in hand I sat down to take stock of the situation.

With a little digging and a thankfully slow security response, combined with a fast reading ability; I learned three different residents have combined medicines to rather dangerously overdose my wife. Security arrives on scene. “Yo dude, here is the chart back. Now would you be most kind as to page the Director of Nursing?”

The DON arrives soon, plump thighs rubbing nylon briskly as she huffs down the hall. She reviews the chart as I ask, and promptly calls for a transfer to a private room. I ask for a minute of her time, thanking her for her special consideration. As I turn to leave, my wife now stable and secure I say only one thing.

“Ma’am, I am most gratefully for your special treatment. But frankly, I would actually feel better if my wife was put in a hospital coat closet with ONE REAL NURSE. Whatever happens during the rest of our stay, can you promise me there will be one real nurse at her side?” The quality of care she received improved most notably.

You see, I think I am on to a new professional opportunity for EMS seasoned clinicians. What EMT’s and Paramedics do, at it’s core, is control chaos. It is my belief that certain and very few people, are good at managing chaos. EMS guys and gals do it every single day. We just don’t do daily normal so good.

The acute care healthcare system in America is really almost in chaos. It is the only service you will ever buy where you really have no advocate. If you get arrested you can call a lawyer. He will try to make sure the legal system doesn’t screw you. In finance, you can hire an investment professional to guard your money. When you get a bypass you just submit to total strangers?

When we need an operation about the only real help you will get offered from outsiders is from clergy. I just have a feeling like there are well-heeled Americans out there that are facing their own personal healthcare crises, and could sure use and afford a real Guardian. One with years of street savvy and muscles – that don’t take No for an answer and can keep you alive for an hour in crises all by himself. I wonder if any consorts to the super wealthy know how cheap a simply stunning paramedic would be.


About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for, on and I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
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