Follow up care is at the discretion of the physician. After care at outpatinet surgical clinics is where the most effective follow up care is given. Whether nurses from the clinic or from the surgeon’s office are the one initiating the call, it needs to be done. Usually a patient is discharged in the care of a relative or friend and is often still somewhat under the influence of the anesthetic. Until a call is placed and they can talk to the patient can they actually sign off their charts effectively.
Not to be too cynical, but the truth in medicine is where we find it, and follow up care for outpatient care has an ulterior motive. To avoid a lawsuit if all is not going well. Outpatient surgery is a risk. Twenty or thirty year’s surgical patients were pampered and cared for and when they went home they were on their way to recovery. Now they are on their own. All these newer methods are working well even without all these handholding and sympathetic gestures patients used to expect from empathetic nurses. And too, outpatient surgery has jolted malingerers into reality.
Even in hospitals with their fast turnover of patients, follow up care may sporadically happen. Each has their own rules and most likely this only happens when the doctor has written orders specifically to check on patients. Time and money does not allow for much handholding and empathy in the overall practice of medicine today. Most likely what happens is that the attending physician will want to see the patient back in his office at a certain set time. They will tell the patient to call the office if questions arise.
It makes sense to expect that the communication between hospital staff and the doctors and nurses are so well integrated that each know of the others’ mind, but sad to say, this is not always the case. The problem of poor communication has worsened in recent years because of the expense of medical care and the high cost of running a hospital. Medicine and money is not exactly a match made in heaven. Hospitals, where the main incentive is to make money, must at times cut back on patient benefits, and aftercare follow up could well be one of these unnecessary items.
Ideally, in the best of both worlds, money would not enter into health care. Altruism and grants from rich donors would keep the hospitals with working capital and the sick of all economic levels would be getting health care. Yet money is needed and without it the wonderful means of diagnosis and treatment as we now know it – and fight over – would still be only a dream. In this world follow up care would be a combined effort of both hospital and the attending physician. The doctor would expect a call or two from a social worker or a nurse to see that all is well.
Until then we all will have to rethink our health car options and be totally honest with ourselves. We as consumers – as well as health care providers – can no longer take a lackadaisical attitude about healthcare. We must learn all we can about our own health and how we can stay as well as possible while not going totally berserk with worry on how long we will live. We must understand with the best care, there are no guarantees that any of will reach eighty, ninety or one hundred and beyond.
Follow up care is a good thing. If we live alone and would like someone from the hospital to check on us periodically, why can’t we simply make that request? I am sure for a small fee, a social worker or a nurse would be available to talk to us about our particular needs. That along with adequate computer software that will have all our medicine, our past lab work and procedures, complaints, problems and needs in the hands of those in charge of those in charge us will aid in effectively caring for patients after they are discharged.