Friday, June 13, 2014

Big Hospital No-No

So a lot of really awesome things have happened since my last blog update - liiiiike, moving into our first house, surviving another round of finals (and coming out with my best semester GPA yet - woohoo!  Too bad it takes the full three years of law school to really get your exam routine down...oh well!), and an amazing trip with my hubby and parents to Rome and London.  I'll have a new post soon talking about my trip.  But for now I'm sad to say I'm back in the hospital, and have a short blog to post about that.  (Boooo)

Based on other people's hospital stories, mixed with and my own experiences, I've come to a conclusion:  It's tough for people with a chronic illness to be in the hospital because, oftentimes, we know more about our care and what we need than our nurses and other hospital care-givers know.  This is simply because we're used to dealing with these issues on our own, every day, and we therefore know when something isn't being done correctly.  (Contrast this with a person who's been admitted for an accident or acute illness - they probably have no idea what kind of care they should be receiving, because this is all new to them anyway!)  This puts us in an awkward position of having to find a balance between making sure things get done right and not being a Miss Bossypants patient.  I am not someone who typically does well with confrontation (kind of ironic since I'm studying to be a lawyer, huh?), but after a few days/weeks in the hospital, I sometimes become irritable enough that I have the courage to speak up when something isn't being done "correctly."

Which leads me to today's story and the reason for this post.  So I'm in the hospital, and for the most part everyone has been great.  The guy who inserted my PICC was a little rough (and he put in the wrong kind, grrrr), and occasionally the nurses get on my nerves by waiting too long to start a treatment/IV, being WAAAAY too cheerful or talkative when they come into my room and wake me up at 7am, etc., but for the most part things have been fine.  Strangely, though, it's not the people constantly injecting things into my veins that have me worried - it's the people handling my breathing treatments.  Most of the RTs here have been wonderful, but every once in a while they do something that makes me cringe or want to yell "no nO No NO NOO!!"

(REAL STORY starts here --> ) Case-in-point:  today, a friendly lady was assigned as my RT.  Things were fine until I sat there and watched her take my nebulizer into the bathroom and rinse it out with tap water from the sink.  In my bathroom.  In the HOSPITAL.  I couldn't believe I'd just seen that happen, and was too much of a wuss to say anything right then.  After she'd left, I tossed the nebulizer in the trash, and asked my nurse to let the RT know I'd be needing another nebulizer for my next treatment.

So she came for my next treatment and brought the new nebulizer, as requested.  She asked if I'd thrown the other nebulizer away, and I said "yes," and then explained to her that using tap water from the bathroom sink to rinse nebulizers was dangerous for CF patients (actually for all patients, but I narrowed it down in this instance) because there could be bacteria in the water and on the faucet that would be REALLLY harmful to get into our lungs.  She responded by saying the nurse had told her it had fallen on the floor - was that not true?  She seemed hung up on the fact that what the nurse had said was not true and not really bothered by what I had said about the water.

All the same, at the end of the treatment, she grabbed the bottle of sterilized water they're supposed to use for rinsing and walked into the bathroom to rinse the neb.  Most RTs just pour a little into the neb, slosh it around, and pour it into the trash bag that's in the middle of the room - neither of these are awesome options, but I definitely feel a lot more comfortable doing it over the trashcan full of nothing but plastic gloves and gowns than doing it in the bathroom!  However, I was prepared to let this one go.  But then...

She took apart the neb, placed both pieces IN the sink, then poured the sterilized water over them while they were in the sink!!  AGH!!!  It was a total #facepalm moment.  I get freaked out if I drop a neb piece into my sink while rinsing it at home, even knowing I've wiped down the sink with Clorox wipes beforehand and I'm about to sterilize the neb anyway.  Can you imagine what all could be growing around the sink in a tiny bathroom in the hospital??  Aside from the fact that it's 12 inches from the toilet, that's the place where people have been washing their hands after using the bathroom, where I've been doing sinus rinses (and had a lot of gross plugs come out in the process), etc. - also, I've been here almost two weeks and can personally vouch that no one from housekeeping has touched that sink with a cleanser since I've been here.  ICK!!

At that point I kinda felt like no matter what I said, it just wasn't going to sink in with her that bathroom sinks are dangerous for breathing treatment components, so once she left, I once again threw away the nebulizer cup, and will be bringing up the issue with the night RT.

I feel really bad "tattling" on her, but I feel like her supervisor really needs to know so that she can be educated on the proper way to do this part of the job, along with the hazards of not doing it correctly. Sidenote:  I had this RT during a hospital stay in late 2011, and the same thing happened, only I couldn't see it happening directly because the bathroom was around a corner.  I mentioned it to her and to another RT then, but apparently not much has changed in the last 2.5 years!

Ok, thats all.  Just thought I'd share my story.  If anyone has any insights for how to deal with issues like this, I'd greatly appreciate it!


  1. I think you're doing the right thing. Keep throwing that junk away! What they're doing is awful. Stay strong.

  2. I think you're doing the right thing. Keep throwing that junk away! What they're doing is awful. Stay strong.