When we hear what we wish we hadn't

Passenger A: ‘Bob’s just out of hospital again.’

Passenger B: ‘How is he?’

Passenger A: ‘They stabilised him and changed his medications, so he seems much more comfortable. Not sure I’ll be able to convince him to go back there next time though.’

Passenger B: ‘Really? What happened?’

Passenger A: ‘Oh, you know, the usual.  Nothing too bad – it’s just that he’s getting sick of it.  They got his name wrong on the bracelet again and we had to complain long and loud to get it fixed.  I know our name isn’t the easiest to get right – but that’s no excuse.  Of course this meant that we had all sorts of fun and games with medications and tests – the staff listened to us even less than usual because half the time they thought Bob was someone else or they couldn’t find him in their records. It’s a miracle something didn’t go wrong.

‘And those staff!  Some are nice but most of them don’t give you the time of day. So how good the care is depends on who’s on.  He even had a fight with the weekend physio this time.  I don’t know what that was about. There was the usual drama with trying to work out when he’d be discharged – this was really tricky for me – as you know I’m travelling all over the place for work at the minute.  And I wasn’t able to get in to see him every day because I’ve been away so much – and when I did, he didn’t look – or smell – very clean – said he hadn’t had a proper wash since he was admitted – but surely that can’t be right.  And the food!  Anyway, it’s a pain, because the clinical care is good, and it’s close to home – but Bob is very unhappy with everything else about it.  He thinks the sicker he gets, the worse they’ll treat him as he won’t be able to stick up for himself.  I don’t know what we should do.’

Passenger B: ‘Have you talked to the GP?’

Passenger A: ‘Yes, but she thinks that it’s all fine because they manage his condition well – she doesn’t understand how important all the other stuff is to him. Oh good – food.’

At this juncture, our snack was served and their conversation turned to airline food – also interesting but perhaps not a topic for QualityNews – although not unrelated to healthcare quality and this story.  (How was she rating the airline snack compared to Bob’s hospital fare, I wondered?  And how different is the relative importance of food in both settings?)

What’s your response to Passenger A?