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I’ve learned three things about hospitals over the past few days:

  1. Hurry Up and Wait! Hospitals are some of the slowest places on earth. We arrived yesterday at about 11:30 after a phone conversation with the NICU that suggested Simon was ready to go. Four hours later we were still waiting.
  2. Information does not flow like it needs to. Especially between shifts. The nurses are friendly and extremely helpful, but they’re also very, very busy. Anytime they tell you that they will let the next shift know something that you have told them, that is your queue to communicate that piece of information to the next shift yourself. We gave permission for a certain procedure at least five times (two of which involved signing forms that were immediately lost).
  3. You will be given contradictory information. Jessica has already blogged about the contradictory information you can pick up in baby literature and on the web, but on more than one occasion I actually got contradictory information about Simon’s medical status or proscribed care. This is when you have to reaise your hand, yell “Stop!”, point out the conflict and demand that someone be produced who can provide an authoritative answer. (Or you can just say “Screw it!” and wait to talk to the pediatrician on Monday….)

The Bilirubin test is a perfect example. We get to the hospital at about 11:00 AM this morning, and are asked for the papers ordering his Bilirubin test. Don’t have ’em — nobody told me I was gonna need them, they just told me to bring Simon in. So then they tell us that they can have the NICU send down a copy. Instead of faxing it down, an aide decides to walk it down — probably ’cause he just wants to get the hell out of the NICU for a few minutes and stretch his legs, but whatever. He prings down what amounts to a screen shot of the same database entry that the admitting desk had pulled up on their PC. I’m dubious, but I take it and head down to the lab.

At the lab, they look at this paper and scoff. These papers aren’t orders, they’re screen shots! Yeah, no kidding. We spar for a few rounds with the lab people, and then they say that they will need to call our pediatrician. The pediatrician’s office is called, and after a short conversation with Jessica they agree to fax over an order for a Bilirubin test. Forty-five minutes later, no fax. Call back. “Oh, I think we got the fax number wrong….”

Typically this is where I would just give up, but that’s really not an option any more.

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