Dementia and the ER don’t mix

I started a new job this past week and one of my managers had a terrible bicycle accident after work, and suffered serious facial injuries. He’s going to be okay, thanks to some fine work at the local trauma center hospital. However, he’s also diabetic, and despite telling the staff multiple times, they didn’t even bother checking his blood sugar until the second day he was in the hospital. Luckily, his wife, a registered nurse, arrived at the hospital and was present to be his medical advocate.

This incident made me think about my dad’s final ER visits. He had a bit of a revolving-door relationship with the local hospital during the final two months of his life. When Dad came back to Ruidoso to move to a local assisted living facility that finally had an opening, he was quite ill with what was most likely pneumonia. When the nurse did the intake process at the local care facility, I was told the red flag went off in their computer system when they entered the drugs that Dad had been prescribed by the other facility. I took a look at all of the medications he was on, and Risperidone was on the list. This is not FDA approved for use in elderly patients with dementia and essentially is used by care centers to “gork” out the residents so they are less trouble. Studies suggest the drug may have contributed to an increased risk of stroke in elderly patients.

When Dad was taken to the ER because he was so ill, he was also very lethargic. I asked the medical staff there about the Risperidone, and perhaps they could start weaning him off that, since it is known to make people groggy and clearly Dad was not a “problem” patient at the moment, due to his medical issues.

The doctor just shrugged his shoulders and said their policy was just to keep them on whatever drugs they are currently prescribed. While this might make sense in most cases, wonder if the assisted living facility had been giving him a combination of drugs that was making him ill? Shouldn’t the hospital take that into consideration, instead of blindly feeding my dad pills just because they were on a list?

I’m not usually a fan of being a bitch, but when it comes to hospital care, often, the nice and meek finish last. You have to speak up for yourself and the loved ones you are caring for, even if the staff roll their eyes and get frustrated with you. When someone’s life and well-being are at stake, you have to fight back against an often indifferent healthcare system.

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3 Comments

Filed under Memories

3 responses to “Dementia and the ER don’t mix

  1. People just stop caring after awhile. And that’s what makes it sad. I’ve been reading several of your posts and thinking about how things have happened on my end. It happens over and over again in different parts of the world, but nothing is really done to alleviate the misery. It is, all very sad.

  2. Yes, it is sad.Some hospitals have developed an area of the hospital that’s been designed especially for those with dementia, staffed with people that have receiving special training. It seems to be helping the patients.

  3. Pingback: Dad’s fate decided by bureaucracy | The Memories Project

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