Tuesday 27 February 2018


Dr. Bernard Lown is 96 and knows a thing or two about health care. He's a retired professor of cardiology at Harvard and a Nobel prize winner for his ground breaking work in his chosen field. But just like the rest of us, he's aging and sometimes ill. Recently Dr. Lown found himself in the hospital with pneumonia, attended by a young resident. "Why do the nurses wake me up every four hours to take my vitals when what I really need right now is a good night's sleep?" he complained. The resident replied that the routine was standard hospital care to which the senior doctor replied, "Well, it doesn't make any sense." And so began a friendship between two doctors, one young and one old that is leading to a movement to insert common sense into procedures of hospital care that are usually never questioned. You can read their fascinating story called, 'DOCTORS, REVOLT!' HERE.

It's funny this story appeared in the New York Times a couple of weeks after a hugely popular Twitter hashtag campaign almost broke the internet - #stupidhospitalrules. If you're on Twitter, search the hashtag and have fun reading about all the rules that don't make sense to patients and families. A lot of the complaints relate to fasting before surgeries (there are very good medical reasons for that, but note to hospitals: explain them to patients and families!). But there are lot of family members who gave voice to rules that make it harder than necessary to support our loved ones in hospital - for example, times when we are not allowed to visit (yes, some hospitals still have strict visiting hours in spite of the sensible trend to eliminate them). Visitor parking rates are a popular topic of complaint as are the fact that phone calls to extended family have to be made outside, often in freezing temperatures. These are all barriers to families giving the comfort care to loved ones that they need and we want to give.

What interested me most about Dr. Lown's observations was that he feels healing has been forgotten in a rush to prioritize 'efficiencies'. We've forgotten how to apply common sense and authentic caring in our hospitals. WE know that the wellspring of care and healing is within families. So, we should revolt too. Let's do it.

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