Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Hospital Agreement

I drove a good friend of mine to the hospital yesterday for a minor medical procedure that required me to hang around and drive him home. (For those of you under thirty, "minor medical procedures" for us over-forty crowd can be anything from a hernia to a heart bypass.) I will spare you the details, but my friend was having a procedure that involves sticking scopes and tools up an opening that is normally devoted to one-way operations. You don't want to know any more, and neither do I.

When we arrived, the admittance nurse had him sign a Hospital Conditions of Admission form, and then she very thoughtfully told him to give me his wallet. I guess we know who’s buying me lunch! After he had been whisked through the big swinging double doors, I sat down and assessed my cash situation in his wallet. Not bad. Then I actually read the form he had just signed.

1. Consent to Medical Care
The undersigned hereby consents to the procedures that may be performed during this hospitalization, including emergency services, which may include but are not limited to laboratory procedures, X-ray examinations, nursing care, medical or surgical treatment or procedures, anesthesia, or other hospital services rendered under the general and special instructions of my physicians.

This first one seems a little silly. We wouldn’t have driven here if he didn’t consent to medical care. And I would hope that the procedures performed here today include medical and nursing care. This is a hospital, after all. We didn't come here to get the oil changed in his car. (At least, not literally.) I think for his sake he is really hoping today's procedures involve the anesthesia you mentioned, also.

2. Educational Consent
The hospital is an educational facility participating in the training of physicians, medical students, student nurses, and other health care personnel, and they may participate in the patient's care to the extent deemed appropriate by the Medical Staff or hospital personnel.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! I understand that people need to learn their jobs, but why does this say "Medical Staff" and "hospital personnel," and not "doctors." If Skippy the freshman med student is going to be operating any tools near or in me, it damn-well better have been a doctor that OK'd it, and not just "hospital personnel." It’s not OK for Janet in human resources to send Skippy down the hall to the O.R. to practice whatever he wants.

3. Personal Valuables
It is understood and agreed that the hospital maintains a fireproof safe for the safekeeping of money and valuables, and the hospital staff shall not be liable for the loss or damage to any money, jewelry, glasses, dentures, documents, furs, or other articles of unusual value and small size unless placed in the safe.

So unless I put my dentures and fur coats in the safe, you guys are just washing your hands of the whole thing, huh? And I'm not sure I fully understand your lawyerish here with "other articles of unusual value and small size..." So if I have something that is crazy-expensive and really big, like my life-size cashmere inflatable elephant, or something small that is expensive but of standard price, such as a diamond-encrusted Rolex with Brazilian platypus-leather band that I bought at market value, you're saying you ARE liable for that?

4. Discharge Agreement
Hospital Discharge Hour is 11 A.M. In order to permit the hospital to properly prepare the bed and room for another patient, the undersigned agrees that the patient will vacate the room by the Discharge Hour.

Did your lawyer used to work for Marriott or Hilton? I didn't realize hospitals had check-out times. I always assumed they just told you to leave whenever you were better. What if 11 A.M. rolls around and he’s not out of the O.R. yet? What if they don’t finish until 2 P.M.? Can we get an extended checkout, or will he be charged for another night’s stay? What about the complimentary continental breakfast? More importantly, is there a minibar?

5. Consent to Photos
I consent to the taking of photographs, videotapes, digital or other images of my medical or surgical condition or treatment, and the use of images, for purposes of my diagnosis or treatment or for the hospital's operations, including peer review and education or training programs.

Yeah, right... "peer review." Don't you mean, “the surgeon's Instagram account?” And you can't fool me with "education and training." Let's call it what it really is: The surgery blooper reel at the hospital Christmas party. All I can say is, I'd better not see anything end up on the hospital's Facebook page.

6. Consent to Telehealth
I consent to the use of telehealth for the delivery of health care services. Telehealth includes telemedicine, and involves the use of audio, video, or other electronic communications to interact with you, consult with health care providers, and/or review your medical information for the purposes of diagnosis, therapy, follow-up, and/or education.

Was this written in 1952? Are you planning on interfacing with me via telex or possibly that new-fangled invention, the fax machine? Will you send my diagnosis and/or therapy over the telegraph wires? Should I head down to the Western Union office when I'm discharged and await your electrical correspondence? I'm thinking here in 2015 we can probably update number six to read: “We will email you.”

I stopped reading after that, because my brain was starting to ache. Items seven through ten could have included a release to sell his vital organs on the black market, or an agreement to be liable for the surgeon's ex-wife's Visa bill. I just didn't care anymore.

There are probably a number of good reasons why signing that document might not be advisable, but his biggest mistake of the day, by far, was handing me his wallet. That steak and lobster combo I had for lunch was phenomenal. I hope they gave him enough anesthesia for me to drop him off at home before he thinks to check his wallet.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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