The Hidden Dirty Secrets Hospitals Don’t Want to Tell You

VIP patients can affect your care

doctors in surgery gear

“In many hospitals, VIP patients get special treatment. They may stay in special areas or have a VIP notation on their chart, which means that whenever their bell goes off, we are expected to make that patient’s request a priority, whether it’s ‘I need some water’ or ‘Can you get me some stamps?’ Hospitals don’t add more nurses; they just take away from the care everybody else gets.” —Deborah Burger, RN.

Surgeons multitask major operations

nurse in operating room

“Your surgeon may be doing someone else’s surgery at the same time as yours. We’re talking about complex, long, highly skilled operations that are scheduled completely concurrently, so your surgeon is not present for half of yours or more. Many of us have been concerned about this for decades. Ask about it beforehand.” —Marty Makary, MD.

Electronic paperwork annoys us

female doctor on phone looking at a computer screen

“Most of us hate electronic medical records systems. We don’t like that we have to click off boxes instead of focusing on the patient. The choices they give us to click on don’t give the doctors a real understanding of what we’re doing. A lot of things get missed.” —Karen Higgins, RN.

Our priorities have changed

doctors talking to patient in waiting room

“Because Medicare has put more emphasis on the results of patient satisfaction surveys, hospitals are pushing us to emphasize customer service. It makes me worry we will do what we can to make people happy in place of what we should. To say that you need to focus on getting this person’s dinner right even though your other patient needs his chemo hung—that’s not right.” —Theresa Brown, RN, author of The Shift.

Managed-care companies dominate our time

“The amount of time I spend on the phone talking to doctors working for the managed-care companies is, in my eyes, a complete waste of time. This morning, I spent 30 minutes explaining why I’m giving a patient a particular medicine. Those doctors don’t know who the patient is, yet I have to persuade them to allow me to do what I believe is in the best interests of the patient.” —Sam Klagsbrun, MD, executive medical director of Four Winds Hospital in Katonah, NY.

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