Monday, November 17, 2008

Over Sensitive

Y'know, these days I have to be really careful about what I read or even what I watch on TV. I know some would say I am over sensitive, but reading or watching the wrong thing can (and does) send my mood plummeting. I'm not always sure what "the wrong thing" is to be honest. Injustice of any kind, I think. Watching a crime drama about a doctor who causes someones death and then covers it up and gets away with it is definitely "the wrong thing" for me.

When Mr Man was in hospital for the third time in 2003 one of the patients died. It was widely believed that the doctor had assessed the patient and decided that she was well enough to go home with her husband for the weekend, but then she killed herself. An easy mistake. If someone is determined enough (and pretty good at acting) it is possible that they could fool the doctor into believing that they are starting to make a recovery. It was a tragedy.

But, what actually happened was that the patient was on "level 3 obs" as they called it - she was supposed to have been checked every 15 minutes to make sure she was safe. She wasn't on home leave at all. During the inquest it was explained that the hospital was regularly under-staffed, making such observations difficult. The ward had two floors, with numerous exit points, which increased the difficulty further.

Actually, the truth is that at night the patients weren't allowed downstairs, and in the day the patients weren't allowed upstairs and their rooms were locked. It was impossible to leave the ward from the first floor anyway - all of the windows had bars across them on the outside, preventing them from opening more than a few inches. On the ground floor there were only two exit points, one of which was directly next to the office. In fact you couldn't walk in or out of the exit without being seen by whomever was in the office. So how did this patient manage to leave the ward?

It was nearly four years before the truth was finally established, that the patient's notes were falsified and recorded that she had been checked on - a full half hour after CCTV footage showed her committing suicide elsewhere in the town. She was missing for four hours before anyone noticed. The notes were falsified by the nurse whom I had witnessed on numerous occasions playing computer games in the office. Obviously the nurses were very busy because they were so under-staffed.

It makes me wonder what we would have found out if the case of Mr Man's attempted suicide on the ward a year earlier was fully investigated. Of course, it never was investigated because... well, he didn't die did he? So that made everything ok. That's what I was continually told anyway. I did meet with the Medical Director, to discuss this and other issues, and I was assured that Mr Man had been checked every 15 minutes, so the staff had done all they could to prevent it - it was in his notes so it must be true.