I’m writing my first NaBloPoMo post from The Western Pennsylvania Hospital, where G has been readmitted with a slight fever, a common sign of infection. Central line infections are common and he’s had several before, so we assumed that was the case when his temperature went up to 100.5 on Thursday night.
Doctors never assume; they test. To test for a line infection, blood cultures are taken from both the catheter and from a vein elsewhere in the body. If he does have an infection, he’ll get treated with the super-antibiotic vancomycin.
Since he would be in the hospital as an outpatient on Friday morning anyway, we spent the better part of Thursday night taking his temperature. Every 15 minutes or so, I would hover over him and silently watch the digital digits change, praying that they stop before a certain number and thinking how important numbers are in life.
We did end up paging the doctor on call, but luckily his temperature went down before we had to go to the emergency room.
The Emergency Room sucks, but readmission isn’t much better.
Being readmitted is a lot like being admitted for the first time, except you already have a bracelet. He was admitted over a month ago, discharged almost a week later, and he’s been an outpatient since. He was here yesterday, and he’s scheduled to be here on Monday morning. He’s here a lot. He knows a lot of nurses, and they know him.
But when he’s readmitted, nobody knows who he is. He’s in the system, he has a bracelet and has even memorized his medical file number, but none of the nurses or doctors know anything about him — especially on a Saturday night. Many of the residents don’t even know what TTP is, so G has to explain it to them.
And reexplain it. He has to answer the same questions again and again; questions I assume wouldn’t need to be asked had they read his charts. Tonight, they can’t even find his charts. I don’t want to complain about West Penn Hospital, because our experiences here have been far better than what I’ve heard about other hospitals, but I wonder every time why such an advanced institution doesn’t use their technology better.