How To Kill Your Elderly Relative

I hate the day before Thanksgiving.

Wait! I thought the whole Scrooge thing didn’t kick in until Black Friday!

Well, don’t worry. I have plenty of bahs and humbugs to go around.

Holidays are wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But the days leading up to the holidays really make me hate humanity.

Just as a data point: I’m on call tomorrow.

But Doctor Grasshopper, isn’t being on call the day BEFORE Thanksgiving better than being on call the day OF Thanksgiving?

Well, maybe. In some ways.

But in others, accepting patients the day before Thanksgiving sucks more than accepting patients pretty much any other day of the year.

Because that is the day that lonely elderly people are dumped in the hospital by their supposedly-loving families.

In. Droves.

It’s hard not to hate people when you have to smile at them while they explain to you that dear old grandma and grandpa are Just Not Themselves Today. Because you know that there will be nothing medically wrong with the poor geezers, and you also know that the second you call the oh-so-concerned family to come get them out of the hospital before they contract multiple-drug-resistant pneumonia, they will oh-so-conveniently be unreachable. Because they’ve gone to Florida. Or maybe just their neighbor’s house. Or maybe they’re having a party, and they forget to tell everyone not to pick up the phone because it might be the hospital. (Yes, that has happened. And they weren’t subtle about it, either.)

Also sincerely odious are the home health aides at this time of the year. The ones in my hospital system know that if they make up some excuse to dump their charge on the hospital the day before a major holiday, their services can’t be reinstated until the next day…oops, I mean after the holiday is over. And meanwhile, these poor, demented seniors are left to rot in overpacked hospital rooms, exposed to vancomycin-resistant enterococcus and methicilin-resistant staph aureus, and everything-and-its-brother-resistant klebsiella and acinetobacter……

Yes, I get that you people don’t want to be taking care of an elderly relative or charge on Thanksgiving. I totally get it. I don’t either, but guess what? It’s my RESPONSIBILITY, so I just DO IT. If you don’t want to work on Thanksgiving, be a garbage collector. If you don’t want to care for your elderly relative, spring for a nursing home.

I’ve said it before, but I feel like it’s just not sinking in:

HOSPITALS ARE DANGEROUS PLACES FOR OLD PEOPLE. STOP SENDING THEM THERE IF THEY ARE NOT SICK, BECAUSE THEY ARE LIKELY TO BECOME SICK IF YOU DO.

This Thursday, send a couple extra good wishes for the poor elderly folks whose families Love Them So Much….But Not Enough To Keep Them Safe And Healthy On Thanksgiving.

And remember: Doctors are vectors, not babysitters. Nurses are vectors, not babysitters.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You should print this and post it in the waiting rooms. Tuck it in the bags of the dearies before they go back to their alleged loved ones. Place QR codes on random corners for techies to follow. I just don’t get it. Isn’t Tday the one day that you want as much family as possible?

  2. Oh, Dr. G. This is so sad and so disgusting. When my mother was alive I was often startled at how much medical people appreciated my doing minor things to help care for her–I guess I know why now. (Not to nominate myself for sainthood here. They really were minor things.)

    I’m sorry that you and your colleagues get stuck dealing with this, and sorrier for the old people. Hospitals are confusing places for non-medical folks under the best of circumstances. I know you’ll be as kind as you can to the patients.


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