Tuesday, 21 August 2007

I don't need a doctor, I'm having my lunch.

The Potato, a ward Sister who looks exactly like a potato would if it were human, wanted me off the ward.

It was "Patients' Protected Mealtime". This tries to discourage staff and students from unnecessarily bothering patients who are trying to eat.

The fact that I was at a desk, quietly reading through a patient's notes, well away from any other human being, apparently didn't make any difference. Just my presence was upsetting the natural balance of Primrose ward.

Without me there, of course, patients would feel right at home. Dignity would be instantly restored, wounds would close up, and - in the case of one unfortunate lady in bay 1 - bowels would stop opening all over the floor. Doctors are the cause of all of these ills.

I'm not against the idea of giving the patients back some level of control over their lives. They're carted off to their scans, or their operations, without much warning. They're stripped down, then poked and prodded by unkind fingers. This is often worse than whatever disease they came in with. Lots of people put up with occasional nausea and vomiting at home, but how many would let complete strangers come into their bedroom, ask them if they've opened their bowels, then put a finger in their bottom to check?

But I actually find the Protected Mealtime a massive cop-out.
Why bother with humane nursing or simple courtesy, when patients have a set time each day to feel like themselves again? Rather than addressing bad medical care that makes people feel less than human, we've created a gimmick that glorifies the pallid slop we make patients eat.

It's a
weak, flimsy idea at best, badly misunderstood, poorly implemented and almost useless in practice.

You might as well call it "Dignity Hour".

Which is why I laughed when Potato suggested I move on, and got on with my job instead.


Merys said...

protected meal time is a huge joke in my hospital. As a medical student I cant go anywhere near a patient during this time, but as an auxiliary nurse I can do exactly what the hell I want - except make beds. Infection control you know.. One huge joke.

Elaine said...

It would do a lot more for patient dignity if patients could be provided wiwth half decent food (even at a (voluntary) cost.

Hugh said...

very brave of you to stand up to or ignore a ward sister.
ps in general practice the nearest you get to dignity is the Dignity plc undertaker