At This Hospital, The Stupid is Strong

St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox, British Columbia is having some problems with opening up a new transitional care unit. It’s evidently understaffed and poorly planned, and of course, in planning this new unit, hospital administrators neglected to consult the most important people working there, i.e. the staff. Despite a rosy picture painted by the hospital’s CEO, the nurses are having none of it. Money quote:

By way of example, [B.C. Nurses Union Rep Juanita] Munroe noted that dispensing some medications requires the signature of two nurses. There will only be two nurses on the entire TCU. When one of them is on break or otherwise occupied, how will those medications be dispersed?

Munroe said that one hospital administrator told a member of staff who asked the question to get a housekeeper to cosign.

Get a housekeeper to co-sign. I read this twice to make sure I got it right. Yes, truly. The stupid here is breath-taking. When nurses double-check medications, it’s because the drugs in question are dangerous. Would you trust a housekeeper to double-check medications? Well, unfortunately, gob-smacking asshattedness happens when administrators don’t involve nurses in planning, or worse, analyse their function in terms of what they do, not what they know.

In the event, I’d like to know what kind of hospital administrator is down with the housekeeping staff to co-sign medications. Because, after all, nothing says quality care and patient safety like getting the housekeeping staff to check meds.

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  1. #1 by Cartoon Character on Sunday 29 August 2010 - 1104

    There are so many problems with the Health Authorities since they were brought in – I can’t begin to tell you…..
    That TCU has a nurse/patient ratio that I haven’t seen since night shift in the 1970s.
    And as for getting a housekeeper to check the meds with the RN…..I think they need a new hospital administrator because he clearly doesn’t know what the nurse’s responsiblities are and aren’t giving the nurses respect for what they do – by inferring that they are a little more than a housekeeper? Maybe it is an attempt to eventually replace the nurses with housekeepers? To reassign duties? I did hear rumblings at one point in various hospitals that I worked in – that they were going to train housekeeping staff to do vital signs etc……will it never end?

  2. #2 by Maha on Sunday 29 August 2010 - 1525

    What kind of douche baggery is that? This guy needs to be fired and then tarred and feathered for suggesting something so asinine. Sadly he’s probably not the only one that thinks like that.

  3. #3 by Eleanor Cramer on Sunday 29 August 2010 - 1746

    Hmm. indeed, this sounds nutso — but don’t we do something similar when sending patients with complex conditions home into the care of whatever family members are available to administer drugs, insert intravenous lines, do rehab, and god knows what else?

    I may be exaggerating — I certainly hope so — but checking and administering meds is something I am certain family members do. The difference is (I guess) that if housekeeping staff mix up the meds, there’s a lawsuit on the horizon. If Mom or Grandma does it, it’s just a sad accident, or possibly murder, but either way, not the clinic’s fault.

  4. #4 by Joni Watson on Monday 30 August 2010 - 1433

    Ugh. Hate seeing this…*again*! Whhhhhyyyyy leave nurses out? (shakes fist) Whhhhhhyyyy?!

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