(This case study doesn’t have a happy or “successful” conclusion. But I felt compelled to include it here because it speaks to the absolute necessity to contact us immediately as soon as an elderly person is admitted to a hospital for any reason. Jack Halpern.)
Hillary Boland rushed her father Sandy to a Queens Hospital on New Years Day 2008. Sandy was enjoying the company of his two grandchildren when he tripped over a chair stool and broke his hip. He was admitted to the surgical unit at the local hospital in Queens although he lived in Manhattan. As a result, all of his doctors were in Manhattan and inaccessible to him. Hillary asked the nurses to note their phone numbers and asked that they be contacted.
The year before his hospitalization, Sandy had a bad case of food poisoning and since that time had become a poor eater. He lost a lot of weight. His doctor had suggested some supplements that helped. Since he lived alone, Sandy had arranged for meals to be delivered to his home. He gained some weight, but not nearly as much as needed.
Sandy was scheduled for a hip replacement. He was in a lot of pain and was very agitated. One morning Hillary came to visit her dad. His arms were tied to the bed rails with cloth restraints. She was very angry. The staff told her that the night before, her dad was very agitated and they administered Haldol™, a powerful anti-psychotic drug, to calm him down. The drug made him even more agitated so they had to restrain him to the bed. Hillary complained that she was never informed that her father was being given any Haldol™.
The surgery was successful. Hillary was handed a list of 75 nursing homes and asked to pick one. MEA was called in to locate a rehab center. Upon our arrival, we learned that Sandy had been in the hospital for 10 days. MEA did a full assessment and much to Hillary’s horror, we unearthed the fact that her dad had developed a stage IV (most severe stage Decubitus Ulcer in the Sacral area (lower back). No one had told her about this. Whenever Sandy was being changed, Hillary was asked to leave the room.
MEA placed Sandy into a good rehab center with a great Physical and Occupational Therapy Department. Unfortunately, after four days of physical therapy, Sandy had to stop. The bedsore was giving him too much pain. His doctor decided to put him on painkillers that made him even less able to participate in therapy. He was only able to participate in occupational therapy that strengthened his upper body but did nothing to help him walk again.
Sandy stayed at the facility for three months. He was never able to complete therapy. He lived until the end of 2008. He never walked on his own again. His ulcer never completely healed.
Sandy went from an active 84 year old who walked a few miles every day, used the treadmill and bike in the gym three times a week, chased his grandchildren around their yard when he visited them, to a cripple who had to depend on other people for his care. The major cause of this was that the staff at the hospital did not turn Sandy or move him out of bed for almost two weeks.
To this day Hillary cries when she thinks how she failed her dad…when he needed her the most. What guilt.