Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hospitalization (Part V)

The morning after I was involuntarily admitted to the hospital, I got to meet with the psychiatrist that had admitted me the night before without seeing or speaking to me.  He spent about ten whole minutes with me.  Mike was at the hospital with me when the doctor arrived and I wanted him to stay while I talked to the doctor, but the doctor absolutely refused to allow him to stay.  He said that after he talked with me privately first, then he would allow Mike to come in and he would speak with both of us together.  That's not what happened, though.  After spending ten minutes with me, he left, without inviting Mike to come back in. 

All patients, in psychiatric units and other hospital units, are supposed to have the right to have family members or friends involved in their care if they wish, but I was denied that right.  Since having a strong support  network is especially beneficial to people with conditions like depression, it seems like it would be even more important to include people of the patient's choosing in the treatment process in instances of mental illness, but apparently that is not how things are done at this particular hospital.

The doctor told me that state law required him to admit me for three days since I could be considered a danger to myself.  I told him I thought the law said he could admit me for three days, not that he was required to.  He then agreed that it was not a requirement.  That may seem like a small thing, but it bothered me because I felt like he was assuming I was too stupid to understand what the law really said and was trying to mislead me about it.

I tried to explain why I felt that I would be better off at home than in the hospital but he wasn't listening.  He said he believed I would hurt myself as soon as I was discharged, since I had a history of self-injury, and that he didn't think anything they did in the hospital would change that.  I said in that case, then why should I stay for three days?  If I'm going to hurt myself anyway, what different does it make if I do that in three days or in two days or in just one day?

He said the difference was that if he kept me for the three days allowed by law, he could not be sued when I went home and hurt myself again.

I said, "Let me make sure I'm understanding you correctly.  You are not keeping me in the hospital because you think it will benefit me.  You are keeping me here so you do not get sued."

He said, "Yes, that's right."  Seriously.  That's what he said.  I have no witness to that since he would not allow Mike to stay in the room while he spoke with me, but he said that.

It turned out, by the way, that the law allows patients to be involuntarily admitted for up to three business days.  Don't ask me why it matters if it's a weekday or a weekend, but that's how the law is written.  Since I was admitted on Friday evening, that means I ended up being held there for five days.

I also told the psychiatrist how the emergency room physician had denied me any pain medication but he did not seem concerned about that.

Later that day, I finally got to see the real patient rights advocate, although I found him less than helpful.  He told me all he could do for me was to write a note in my chart to let my doctor know that I was unhappy with the way I had been treated in the ER.  Well, I'd already told my doctor that, but he didn't care.  I told the patient rights advocate that I didn't understand the point of his role, if that was all he could do.  He then advised me that I could file a formal grievance with the hospital if I wanted.  He said I would have to ask a nurse for a form to do that, he could not give me the form, and he could not tell me anything else or answer any questions about how that process worked.  I don't get why his job even exists, since he apparently does nothing whatsoever.  Maybe the hospital just thinks it sounds good to say they have patient rights advocates available?

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