The anesthesiologist consulting with my wife.

Yesterday I spent nine and one half hours at the hospital with my wife. She had a surgical procedure performed on her hip.  With my wife in surgery, the surgeon told me the process would take 45 to 60 minutes.  In reality the surgical process took just about 50 minutes, so he knew exactly what he was talking about. So my question is this why did my wife and I have to spend nine and one half hours at the hospital for her to have a 50 minute procedure performed?

 I would like to say this up front.  The surgeon did a great job, and communicated well with me and my wife.  The hospital staff was kind, caring and did the best that they could. I am not mad or upset with their delivery of services, it just seems awfully inefficient and frustrating to all parties involved.

 The story is this.  My wife was told to arrive at 6:30 a.m.  We arrived at 6:20 a.m.  We were greeted nicely and directed to surgery on the third floor.  We arrive there and my wife was assigned a room and told to put on the gown, and stretch out on the bed. As we were getting ready to leave the counter, we were told by the staff there would be a delay as the surgeon had been called over to another hospital on an emergency case. The length of the delay… unknown.  We noticed there were two other cases scheduled in front of my wife.

 Later we were told that the surgeon was “on call” and that is why he had to leave.  For the purposes of the story let’s stop here. 

 The surgeon is scheduled to do surgery at one location, while with his “on call status” he may be called away to another location, on a more pressing matter.   Ok, so in my world if something can go wrong it usually does. If I look at this objectively, I am potentially scheduling the surgeon to be in two places at one time, ergo someone or a group of people is going to be waiting.  In addition to the patients and their loved ones left waiting, there is the stress of the situation, as well as any time away from work, or fees paid to babysitters etc or any other things that must be taken care of while awaiting doctors.

 Further, if I am running surgical location #1 while the surgeon is called away to surgical location #2 – I have a staff of highly paid professionals who are at the beckon call of the surgeon, but doing nothing.  (In manufacturing we call this down time – and it is a drain to the bottom line.)

 So patients, families, employees and support staff and other all wait at location #1. I understand how certain cases take precedence sometimes, but no attempt is made to adjust, contact or communicate with the rest of the people in this equation.  It is tantamount to sitting in a physician’s waiting room for hours on end not know if or when you will see the doctor.

 With the communication technologies in place today, it would certainly seem to me that improvements could be made to this process. However, someone has to see this as a problem first. If no one will admit this is a problem, we will continue with the status quo. I have read about specific health care facilities that have decided to make customer service a priority and work hard to meet scheduling expectations.

 My time and my wife’s time have value too, however given the hubris from those in the medical services industry, medical services interests’ trumps individual concerns.  Until we start purchasing medical services like any other commodity it does not appear to me that anything will change. To do so, all it requires is for your provider to answer these questions.

 When will we do this, when will we be done and how much will it cost? 

Would  you buy anything else without knowing this?