Friday, February 21, 2014

WILL THIS BE ON THE TEST? - a movie, a fantasy and a rant

In one of my favorite movies, The Doctor, William Hurt gets, shall we say, a taste of his own medicine when he becomes a patient.  

What if this movie were made today? What if it were made in the hospitals where I was an observation patient or inpatient for my spine problem?  What if I made the movie?    

A modern hospital, somewhere, USA

A female patient, Susan Bigge, MD, notices from her bed, there are many caregivers, not all nurses.  Each has a role, plays it, and leaves without knowing much about why she is there or her needs.  In some cases, without really looking at her.  

She slowly realizes that she is not the boss here--that she is somewhat at the mercy of anyone she might complain about.  So, one night when one of her medicines disappears from the computer, she doesn't mention her fears--if she had been asleep when it happened, she might never have noticed one pill missing each night.

She gets one good physical therapist who makes her do things she didn't dream she could do.  But when the doctor complains about her wheelchair causing pain to injured nerves, the therapist says "at least they put a pillow in it" and does not mention it to anyone in authority.  

She has to explain firmly to the other physical therapists what moves her doctors never allow.  

A male caregiver, one she has never seen before, appears one night tasked with administering her vaginal cream.  He has no idea what it is for or how to administer it, quickly creating an expensive mountain of cream on the bed.  Obviously, in his classes, this was not on the test.  

Flashback to the caregivers in certification training classes, being prepared to pass certification tests. When students ask about looking at the patient, asking what she needs, checking what she is allowed to do, or ever reporting her specific needs, the instructor tells them "We have a lot to cover here, just pay attention."   And a flashback to medical school.


My favorite part of The Doctor was when William Hurt, back at work, decided to make other doctors take the tests they ordinarily recommend for patients.  I loved that part. But in my movie, the changes the doctor makes will go all the way back to the classroom, where the lack of attention to the patient begins.

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