Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

We Used To Sell Cigarettes in Hospitals

nurse_1471846fNice article in STAT, a relatively new Boston Globe-affiliated publication devoted entirely to health care. Melissa Bailey reminds us that ‘candystripers’ used to sell cigarettes to patients to comfort them while hospitalized.

How quaint.

She goes on to point out 5 practices that will seem just as antiquated. Soon, we hope.

  1. Advising doctors NOT to say, “I’m sorry.” Hospitals still do this. It can be seen as an admission of guilt, the thinking goes.
  2. Have prescription labels that don’t indicate what the medicine is for. How smart. And not even close to standard at present.
  3. Not washing our hands in front of you every time. ‘Nuff said.
  4. Spending more time typing than talking and listening to you. We can hope, can’t we?
  5. Easily getting your medical records, without your having to pay, wait, fill out forms, or just be hassled like you’re asking for state secrets.

I think this is an excellent list. There are no doubt dozens more. (Why do we awaken people in the hospital so often?) What are your ideas for health care pet peeves you’d like to see abolished?


  1. Josh Kirschner

    My pet peeve is not being able to find out how much a procedure will cost before getting treatment. What other business operates this way? The thinking seems to be mired in the mindset that everything will be covered by insurance. But for those without insurance, a high deductible or a non-covered procedure, knowing the cost is critical to making a decision about when, where or if you’re going to get the procedure.

    • glasshospital

      This is a huge issue and has been for a long time. Libby Rosenthal, author of the NYTimes series “Paying ‘Til it Hurts” has a book coming out soon that will go into detail on this.

  2. Sandy Sober

    Turning on the patient’s room lights during the middle of the night to do routine checks. How about a flashlight to check the details?

    No need to speak for personnel to speak at full voice anywhere on a patient floor in the middle of the night, just because it’s the middle of their work shift. The patients who are trying to get well need their sleep.

    While at it, dim the hallway lights between 9 PM ad 7 AM.

    Minimize “out loud” paging systems. In this day and age, reach personnel by their own pagers and resort to loudspeaker paging only in extreme circumstances. My mother-in-law would get terribly upset by code blue and/stat announcements.

    Leave less debris and tangled cords and tubing. Keep medical clutter to a minimum in the patient’s room.

    Treat patients like IMPORTANT CLIENTS, not people to be tolerated until your shift is over.

    Expedite discharge processes, so the clients (aka patients ) aren’t kept waiting as though their time and comfort is of no consequence.

    Once the hospital has gathered necessary info . . . stop asking for the same info for new forms for different departments. Wouldn’t it be best for all depth to be functioning off of the same base info?

    Give patients the opportunity to submit (for review) corrections to their own patient history. Personnel asks for intake info . . . and they make mistakes. If noticed by patient or family members it can often be next to possible to get an entry revised (as though the person doing the intake gets defensive at errors being pointed out). For that matter, if a patient brings in written records, why must a nurse as questions verbally and hand write whatever they hear. Seems like a very weak link in the intake process. At a MINIMUM, scan and attach the patient’s notes and attach them with the chart.

    • glasshospital

      These are all excellent, smart ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2021 GlassHospital

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑