Letter from a patient

October 28, 2007 at 8:24 pm (Clinical rotations)

Dear doctors,

I recently visited my mother in your hospital and have quite a few complaints that need your prompt attention. I demand that you drop everything you’re doing and fix the problems.

1. The T.V. in her room is broken. I had to wait a solid four hours for the repair man to arrive. And even then, all he could tell me is that the T.V. needed a new part that wouldn’t come in the mail for another 2 days. I was so bored that I actually had to read a book to let the hours pass. Things were getting so bad that I even considered talking to my mom. Occasionally I got lucky and the patient in the next bed would nod off and leave his remote unattended. Once I heard the snores, it was hello, Jerry.

To make matters worse, your nursing staff was rude to me when I tried to alert them to the problem with the T.V. I explained that the television wouldn’t turn on, thinking that the problem would be taken care of without any more effort on my part. When the repair man didn’t come by for an hour, I figured the nurses must have ignored me like they always do and forgotten to tell the engineers. So, I politely went back to the nurses’ station and explained that the T.V. was still broken. I was extremely upset when one nurse said, “I don’t know who that patient is,” while another said, “I heard you the first time and have already put in a work order.” As I left, I could hear the staff making remarks like, “What does he think this place is, a hotel?”

2. My mom needs to live. You doctors use fancy words like “end-stage renal disease this” or “incurable lymphoma that” and tell me that my mom has no chance to recover. You even went so far as to suggest that she should be labeled as “Do Not Resuscitate.” I need time to be with her in her last days—and you need to do everything you can to keep her alive. Sure, I haven’t talked to her in the past two years since her diagnosis, but my guilt is now your problem. Your social worker tried to strong arm me by saying, “You don’t have insurance and Medicare won’t cover the expenses.” As if medicine costs money. Don’t you know that health care is free?! I’ve seen Obama talk. All I have to do is get to a hospital and the costs are taken care of.

3. The food needs to be changed. Since my mom’s been slipping in and out of consciousness, I’ve taken to eating her meals whenever she passes out; I hate to see food go to waste. But the food is horrible. I was expecting at least McDonald’s quality, maybe Wendy’s. But all I get is this 1800 cal ADA nonsense that taste like cardboard. Where’s the salt shaker? You need to get me some takeout if I’m going to waste my time in this room without a working T.V.

I also don’t appreciate the nurses coming by after lunch every day and asking if my mom ate any of the meal, or if it was me. I don’t like their tone of voice and the notes that they’re scribbling.

4. You need a better recliner in the patients’ rooms. If I’m going to spend all of my free time visiting my mother, I demand a more comfortable chair to fall asleep in while I’m waiting for dinner to come by. Better yet, give me a futon with a pull-out bed for me to rest on. And bring me a nicer blanket than that pale paper-thin one your nurses keep handing out.

5. I need a private room. My mom’s a VIP. I wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t. I demand a private room so she doesn’t have to put up with distractions from the neighbor. I hate hearing the doctors come in every morning to ask the person in the other bed about his bowel movements and the color of his feces. Those doctors are nasty! They can take that attitude elsewhere and leave my mom in peace.

You must take care of these problems immediately or else I’ll be calling a lawyer.

Thanks for your prompt attention,
Every patient’s family member you’ve ever put up with



  1. SusyCat said,

    Very amusing, but sad because it’s true

  2. mo said,

    But you missed my very favorite family member, the one that flies in two weeks after their mother(who they haven’t spoken to in 20 years because mom said she had to repay that $10,000 she borrowed that one time) has had whatever major, obviously soon to be fatal event.(Dad paid for the flight) The daughter that has now decided she was moms favorite and she is going to make all the decisions despite what her brothers, sisters and her dad think.
    The one that demands a family meeting every day for an update and goes into a psychotic rage if anyone says anything remotely negative. The one that has her lawyer coming to the meetings to take notes.
    The one who refuses to agree with the DNR order and when the rest of the family tells her to piss off goes to court for an injunction and accuses her family and the hospital staff of trying to murder her mother.
    The one who loses her court case because her mother dies before the court acts.
    The one who comes to the unit once a month for a year for “meetings” to threaten the hospital( and to stand at the bedside where her mother died because she says her mothers soul is trapped there) until the hospital finally has her arrested and she gets committed to the only psych bed available..our hospital ha ha ha.
    You truly haven’t lived until you get that family member.

  3. Elaine said,

    Funny, but I have to say that I was once hospitalized in Germany for 3 months (pre-term labor). The food was a-mazing-ing! And healthy. Also, there was a fold-down/murphy’s bed for guests to sleep in. All that and I think the total bill (before insurance) was $10K, including childbirth and 3 weeks in the NICU. I don’t know what it is about American hospitals, or cafeterias in general, but they could go intern with the Germans and make some amazing, cheap, food!

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