A prominent Canadian health publisher went to his family doctor for a checkup. At the end of it he said that he had a few other things he wanted to ask her. “Make another appointment,” she said as she turned and left the examining room. He was startled and later, after consulting his medical friends about his two questions, he realized that it would have taken her two or three minutes, at most, to deal with them. (His questions were about a discoloration of the skin around his eyes and a muscular pain in his shoulder.)
What will he do next? He says he will speak to her about it.
I struggled with a number of issues related to my most recent surgery (a partial quadriceps tendon repair) by you, Dr. A and your resident. I initially thought about raising these issues at my next appointment but I realize how your clinic time is limited and therefore I've written this letter. An additional letter related to matters outside of your control and not concerning you is also being prepared to be sent to the hospital.
Let me begin by saying that I have great respect for you as a surgeon and have appreciated that you are a doctor who listens to his patients. I cannot however say the same about the resident you were working with on Sunday, March 31, 2013 at the hospital on your orthopedic cases.
I further appreciate that when undertaking last minute surgeries it must be extremely difficult to coordinate and complete all the cases. That being said, this was by far the worst experience I have endured from beginning to middle to end during a long list of surgical experiences.
These issues relate exclusively to your resident, the surgery, aftercare orders and instructions given prior to my release.
When I received the call on Sunday March 31 at 10:30AM asking me to come to the hospital, I was instructed to bring my health card, my blue card, and a toothbrush. When I arrived at the hospital shortly before noon I was directed up to the 7th floor, asked to change and the nurses started intravenous therapy (I.V.). A few hours later the resident showed up and asked me to sign the consent and an additional form for permission to use blood products should they be required. He then inquired about any medications and previous surgeries. I explained that both were a pretty extensive list but that they should be in my file given that I had had knee replacement by Dr. A in mid-December of 2012. When the resident returned, he advised me he was unable to locate any of this information and asked that I write out the entire list of medications, dosages and use. A nurse was kind enough to write the list of relevant surgeries for me.
I had to stop the resident in order to supply the list to him. This resident was rushing through everything and lacked the ability to stop, listen or even give me, the patient, an opportunity to speak. This was an ongoing issue every time I was forced to deal with him both before and after the surgery.
I was extremely uncomfortable with the fact that I did not get the opportunity to speak to or even see you, Dr. A, before, during or after the surgery. The most upsetting part of this was at 8PM when I was taken to the operating room and, as I lay on the operating table, everyone was in the room, including the 2 anestiseologist, the resident and several nurses, but not you Dr. A. Once they had me strapped to the table, oxygen mask in place and medication being injected, I asked the staff to confirm that you were coming and would be present in the room throughout the surgery. Having had dozens of surgeries in the past, this is the very first time the surgeon has not been present prior to me being placed under anesthetic, which was more disturbing then words can express.
Following the surgery I awoke experiencing a level of pain that exceeded what I had endured after the knee replacement or the tearing of the quadriceps tendon. Whatever the medication instructions were, they failed miserably and were offering even less pain medication then I take at home to manage my neuropathic pain. I was offered 20mg less of my Oxyneo, little oxycocet and no lorazepam at night. I was in so much pain that I was crying uncontrollably, and when the nurse finally came I was told "this is all you can have for the next 4 hours so don't even bother asking." The pain was so severe the woman in the bed next to me was begging for better pain control on my behalf. I was in so much pain I could barely get a word out.
Prior to the surgery the resident inquired if the pain service had meet with me (during the 8 hours I waited for surgery) I said no and was advised they would meet with me tomorrow prior to my release. They never did.
The next morning I unwrapped the wound to take a look and to clean the iodine on the leg. In doing so I discovered the wounds and the entire area had not been cleaned following the completion of the surgery; the entire knee was filthy and covered in caked blood. I have never seen a wound left in such condition following a surgery. Later that morning when the resident appeared I immediately inquired what the tendon looked like, how the knee looked, and so on. I was told that “it has been fixed, there will be no further problems, I can go ahead and weight bare without concern as there was no way I could damage the work that was done.” I was then informed I would be released shortly. I instantly expressed concern about being released due to a number of issues, including the fact that I live in a townhouse which requires climbing 15 stairs, that my mother is on crutches, so I had no help should I require it, and the level of pain I was experiencing, and the fact that the surgery had taken place at 8PM the night before. All this information fell on deaf ears. On top of all of this, the resident offered no postoperative instructions other then my needing to make an appointment two weeks later for the staple removal.
When I called to make an appointment in the fracture clinic the morning of Friday, April 5, I was asked to leave a message, I left my name, phone number, blue card number and reason for the appointment. To date I have received no return call.
I know I haven't known you, Dr. A, for long, but because my former orthopedist, Dr. C, has great faith in you and I respect and trust his judgment, I was willing to entrust you with one of the most important surgeries of my life and my continued care relating to those issues. This last experience has rocked that trust and while I am aware and appreciate that this is a teaching hospital, some students will always require more supervision than others. The resident assisting you on March 31, 2013 was one of those students, and I didn't deserve the less than adequate care I received. I can only hope that any damage done will not cause me long term problems.
Late last year, at the age of 51, I got sick for the first time ever. My family doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, so she told me to go to the ER. I resisted this for several weeks because I hadn’t been shot or anything. We should not be delivering primary health care via the emergency room (ER) – it’s much too expensive! After about two months, without any other options offered by my family doctor, I finally realized that if I was going to get any help I had no choice but to present in ER, even though it wasn’t a life threatening situation. I wasn’t even in any pain at that juncture. I spent about 4 hours in the ER of the hospital where I work (as a social worker) and was treated quickly and with dignity -- in no small part because I am on staff. I was told, in so many words, that there aren’t many “perks” in our field, but that when we get sick, we will be cared for. I thought this was a bit unfair towards people who don’t happen to work in a hospital. This was pretty much the end of being treated with any sort of dignity, so in retrospect I don’t feel badly about it. I was referred to a specialist who saw me 4 days later and diagnosed me with cancer in a very “matter of fact, who cares” way. He was, at best, an accurate diagnostician. No empathy there. Thereafter, things deteriorated steadily.
I live in Canada’s largest city, and I live right downtown. First, I waited over a month for an initial appointment at a cancer “care” facility that has been called “world class.” I would have to disagree with that designation. The moment I stepped through the door there, the emphasis was on my participation in clinical studies. Over the next four months I was “treated”, misinformed, uninformed, and flat out lied to about my disease and my treatment. At the outset, a “Fellow” (sort of a doctor in training) tried to talk me into an invasive procedure and became quite difficult, including refusing me pain medication over the Christmas holiday period when I declined to consent to this. As it turned out, this procedure was entirely unnecessary and would have been merely a learning exercise for the Fellow. In another instance, a technician greeted me in a loud voice, in a well-populated waiting room with “have you had a bowel movement this morning Ms. X?” When I informed her that we would have to discuss this in a more private area, she simply looked perplexed. At a late evening appointment for a CAT scan, another tech, sloppily dressed, informed me as he was preparing the syringe while I was lying on the table, and in front of my 11 year old, that there was a possibility of death from the dye injection (“just saying, but I hafta tell ya”). At another visit, a clerk insisted on taking my photo “…in case you don’t speak English!” A doctor performed a very painful procedure without the anaesthetic I’d been promised I would get and told I had had while the nurse screamed at me to “breath!” (“oops, sorry, we thought you’d had freezing”)
A social worker told me I’d have privacy during chemotherapy treatments. How could anyone consider sitting in a public space hooked up to an IV in full view of 20 + other patients, their families, friends and sundry passersby “private”? Why lie to patients about the setup? A nurse called my 89 year old father, whom I had listed as an “emergency contact”, to rebook an appointment because she couldn’t reach me the first time she called. That’s an emergency? Countless times, I had 5th floor chemo appointments booked on top of basement radiation treatment appointments. Guess who gets to sort that out – the patient. One day, a nutritionist approached me in the corridor asking loudly whether we could “talk about your loose stools.” A “Fellow” chastised me for taking too much over the counter medication when I’d been refused a prescription remedy. She then berated me for not knowing that there was a nursing facility available for radiation patients who encountered problems, insisting that “somebody” should have told me about this resource; “somebody”? How about YOU? The same fellow failed to record the medication she’d prescribed in my chart, and then called my pharmacist and insinuated that I was trying to double doctor a narcotic in trying to get information about my dose without revealing her error in failing to record this. While I was getting re-hydrated via IV, a nurse decided to tell me all the gory details about how the kind of cancer I have usually metastasises and how I probably won’t live for 2 years. Seven months after treatment ended, I went for a checkup and was examined by a radiologist who said to me “I see something… you need to see a surgeon” and then sent me on my way to wait 6 weeks for an appointment to see that specialist, and 12 weeks for another MRI! When I finally saw the surgeon, I had another painful examination and biopsy to, in her words, “prove to him (the radiologist) that there was no cancer” extant.
If, as a patient, you call this “world class” hospital, you’ll be asked for your patient ID number and once you’ve repeated it, be asked “so this is Ms. X Z?” One wrong digit and you’ve got a stranger’s name… one wrong digit, and a stranger knows yours. I could go on and on about the abuses of power and stupidity evidenced by doctors, techs, nurses, and other “professionals” at this outfit, but I think the above is illustrative enough to make the point. I have stood up to these health “care” providers repeatedly when their apathy and “sausage factory” mentality and their disregard for patient confidentiality have become too much for me… and whenever I stop and realize that there are patients who cannot advocate for themselves because they’re too old, too ill, don’t speak English, don’t have my tenacity….. but now I have reached the end of my rope.
I have discovered that apparently cancer is essentially a reportable disease in Ontario, like sexually transmitted infections. Who knew? Under something called the Patient Health Information and Protection Act (ha!) if you’ve had cancer/treatment, your personal information, including identifying info, is routinely shared with a third party. The patient’s consent has been summarily dispensed with, by law. Not only that, patients don’t even have to be informed that this Act exists or that their consent has been blown off and their personal information has been shared. Doesn’t that make you want to book an appointment for a mammogram, pap smear or PSA?
My son was killed due to negligence and incompetence at our local hospital while in the care of three doctors and one nurse. I have complained to the College of Physicians and Surgeons and to the Ontario Nurse’s College regarding the providers. I suspect that the regional coroner tried to...
My son was killed due to negligence and incompetence at our local hospital while in the care of three doctors and one nurse. I have complained to the College of Physicians and Surgeons and to the Ontario Nurse’s College regarding the providers. I suspect that the regional coroner tried to cover up for the doctors , and I have since complained about him to the college and to the chief coroner of Ontario who is currently investigating my son’s case. I have also requested an inquest.
My son, Joshua, was admitted to our local hospital E.R. on June 5, 2012 after taking an overdose of his prescription medications. Joshua had been diagnosed as bi-polar by a psychiatrist at the hospital a few years before and was under his care for medication. I would like to say that one of the drugs he was prescribed was Abilfy which can cause suicidal tendencies. I had asked the doctor to put him on Zeldox which was recommended by my brother who also suffers from mental disorder but he did not. His life at this time was going in a good direction. He was a fabulous writer and had articles published in a local newspaper. He was starting a new job and there was no indication of suicide.
He contacted his father and I shortly after he attempted suicide at approximately 2:30 am. We took him to the local hospital and arrived by about 4:00 am. He was admitted at once and the emerge doctor contacted Poison control for recommendations. This doctor followed Poison control recommendations and for the next 24 hours my son seemed to improve. Apparently when you ingest this much medication your ammonia levels rise and valproic acid levels are high from the medications themselves. The providers were told by Poison control to start him on L-carnitine, which is used to lower the levels in the blood. They were doing blood work every 3 hours and had to send it elsewhere for testing. His levels for the whole day were very high. All day on June 5 he seemed very groggy.
On June 6 at 10:30 am his levels were normalizing. At 2:40 pm the psychiatrist tried to assess him but could not get him to follow direction or give a sensible response. He said he would come back later to assess Josh. His care had been turned over to a new doctor and this doctor had been assessing him all day on June 6. At 3:15pm, just 35 minutes after the psychiatrist could not get any sense out of my son, the new doctor “medically cleared” him. How could this be? At 3:35 pm, 20 minutes later, the nurse questioned his decision and showed him the most recent blood work results from 1:00 pm that day which showed Josh’s levels to be rising. He still medically cleared him and sent him off to the Mental Health ward. They did not contact Poison Control with this information.
Upon Arriving at the mental health ward, the psychiatrist prescribed Haldol even though Poison Control told them not to. Apparently he did not consult their recommendations. At approximately 6:00 pm Poison Control contacted the hospital since they had not been contacted since earlier that day. When they learned that my son’s levels had started to rise again, they became very concerned and advised them to have the antidote ready and monitor Josh closely. The psychiatrist contacted the doctor who had “medically cleared” Josh and his was response was as follows, “I stand by my decision, patient is medically clear.” At this point the psychiatrist brought in yet another Internist to assess Josh.
By 8:00 pm my son was deteriorating quickly. He was incoherent, confused, and tried to leave the hospital. The new doctor sent him over to the medical ward. After being transferred to this ward they restarted the L-carnitine antidote for his rising ammonia levels. He was still not stable and at 10:45 the Internist prescribed Haldol again. Consequently from 8:00 until about midnight my son was in a very bad mental state. During this time he had a code blue. At about 12:30 am the hospital finally called me. I could hear ungodly screaming in the background which I was told was my son. She told me they were admitting him to the ICU. My other son and I rushed up to the hospital and about 2:00 am the doctor finally came in to talk to us. I asked what had happened and all she told me was that Josh’s levels started rising and they did not know why. I had no idea about the rising levels earlier in the day or that they had given him Haldol in spite of being told not to by Poison Control. I was also told that it had taken 7 – 8 people to hold him down when they moved him to ICU and he had to be physically and chemically restrained to protect him. I have asked in my complaints why I was not contacted as soon as my son was unable to speak for himself since there is an informed consent to treatment act which states that if a patient is incapable of speaking for themselves than the next of kin (me) should be contacted. I live about 5 minutes away from the hospital and they waited over 4 hours before contacting me. This is in clear violation of the act.
From the time he was in the ICU he had a high fever, he was sweating, had a high heart rate (over 130 the whole time up until his death), and he developed pink sputum. These are all signs of DVT (blood clot) but nothing was done to check for this. They gave him Heparin which is only effective in preventing blood clots and is useless after the clot has developed. By chemically and physically restraining him for over 4 days they increased the risk of blood clot. He should have been given surgical stockings and physio as well as heparin but he was not. They never did one test for the clot. They assume giving him heparin would take care of this. Again I stress I believe he had already developed this by the time they gave him Heparin.
I also questioned the use of physical restraints after he had been chemically restrained as well. Josh looked like he was in a coma and could not even move a tiny muscle so why did they leave the physical restraints on. There is also a Minimum physical restraints act in Ontario. It states that only the doctor can order this and they have to monitor and keep records of this and remove them as soon as possible. There are no records on monitoring this. In one of the doctor’s responses to me, she states “I am not saying Ms. Patey is not telling the truth but I do not recall the physical restraints and there are no records of this.” She was not aware of the picture we have. I sent her a picture and had everyone who visited Josh and witnessed the restraints sign an affidavit. She now miraculously claims that records have been found that they missed giving her at first and yes, he was restrained a couple of times. She claims that this was to stop him from pulling out any tubes etc. How in the world can anyone who is so sedated and physically paralyzed pull anything out? This is a ridiculous statement by her. She knows she violated the restraints act and has lied and tried to cover this up.
During his intubation they had trouble getting his breathing stable. The nurse even asked me if he had asthma. This is also a sign of a blood clot but still no one questioned this. He was intubated, physically and chemically restrained from June 7 at 12:30 am until June 11 at 8:00 am. 4 ½ days lying perfectly still.
On June 11 at about 8:00 am they extubated him and woke him. At 10:00 am he had to go to the bathroom and they sat him in a commode next to the bed. He promptly started turning blue and did a face plant on the bed. A code blue was called just as I was arriving in the ICU. They got him stabilized and I was told this was probably due to dizziness from laying in the bed for more than 4 days. According to the coroner, this was likely a sign of the blood clot. However again neither of the doctors involved in the code blue could figure this out. Who is practicing at this hospital? A layman, like me, would attribute this to dizziness, but a trained doctor should have more sense than this.
I stayed with him most of the day and ordered TV for him since he was an LA Kings fan and the final game was on that night. Thank goodness he at least got to see his team win the cup. This was the only good thing that happened to him. During the day he had an oxygen mask on and he kept pulling it away from his face and sucking in. The nurse assumed he was trying to remove it and put the restraints back on for a while. I believe he was doing this because again he was having trouble breathing and he was trying to suck in more air. I had a good talk with him and told him all about the last 5 days and what had happened. He had no recollection of anything from June 6 until June 11. Many family members visited with him that day and he seemed to be doing well. We all thought we were now on the road to recovery. Josh was sincerely sorry for what he tried to do and was looking forward to receiving the counseling he needed. I left the hospital after the game and told him I would see him around noon the next day. That same day, June 11, the doctor started prescribing Haldol again but I was not aware of this until after he died. At about 3:30 am on June 12, he started hallucinating and pulled out his catheter. He was getting very paranoid now.
I called the hospital at 9:00 am and was told about the incident in the night, but not to worry as he could void on his own. They did not tell me about the paranoia. When I arrived at noon the first thing he said to me was “Mom, you have to get me out of this hospital. I will go to another one.” I asked why and he said, “they don’t want me here. I heard them say 'He doesn’t belong here.'" I said, “Oh Josh, they would never say that.” He was acting very paranoid and started to tell me the details of his hallucination. I did not believe my son at the time but now I realize they wanted the bed in ICU and were trying to decide which patient they would move to free up the bed.
I was concerned about the paranoia, which I am now convinced was caused by the Haldol. At the time, however, I thought it was from being without any medication for so long and that it had to do with his bipolar condition somehow. I went to the nurse, the doctor was there with her, and I asked that a psychiatrist be brought in to assess him. They called the psychiatrist who was on call and he came to see us. I found out after reading his report that he was clearly concerned about the paranoia and assumed Josh was still on a Form 1 at the time and said he would continue this. A Form 1 means that a nurse must be with Josh 24 hours to watch him closely. Apparently the other psychiatrist had discontinued the Form 1 earlier in the week and the doctor did not consult with the new psychiatrist about this. Thus my son had no nurse assigned to him.
Josh and I continued to watch some TV and at about 3:00 pm a cleaning lady came in and started cleaning the room. She told us that he was moving to the medical floor. I was surprised since this was the first I heard of this. Apparently they definitely were in a hurry to get the bed since they had the room cleaned before we left. How sanitary is this? especially since they had no idea if my son had c-diff or any other contagious disease. I asked the nurse if we were moving and she said yes. I was still concerned since Josh had diarrhea, stomach cramps, still a fever and high heart rate (130) and was very paranoid. She said they would put a portable heart monitor on him and keep the antibiotics IV with him. She plunked him in a wheelchair. I noticed his feet were not on the foot rests and helped him to put them up. His legs were very stiff and he could not lift his feet by himself. Apparently I am the only one who noticed this. Again I found out later that this is another symptom of DVT (blood clot). Nobody bothered to ask or check him. At this time they still did not know exactly what was causing the high heart rate or fever. They were so sure it was some kind of infection although they had no idea what it was. The doctor was so sure it was aspirated pneumonia but an x-ray earlier in the week showed his lungs were clear. Why did she not even check for something else. I thought when you ruled out one thing you would check for something else as the cause of the symptoms.
We arrived at the medical ward about 3:30 pm. The nurse came and helped him to the bathroom and said she was going to get him into bed. They put him in a semi-private room at the end of the hall. This room was probably the farthest away from the nurse’s station that you can get. Never mind his physical symptoms, what about the paranoia? They didn’t seem to be concerned about what might happen because of this.
I left to go and arrange a phone and TV transfer. When I came back ten minutes later, 3:40 pm, Josh was jumping around in the bed. I asked what was wrong and he said “I think I’m having an anxiety attack. I think I am going to die.” He could not breathe. I pushed the call button. At this time I noticed feces on him and got some paper towels and water and washed him. I tried to calm him down. After about 5 minutes I pushed the button again as no one had answered the call the first time. After another couple of minutes I went into the hall to see the nurse coming. She said they had contacted her from ICU because he had dislodged one of the leads from the heart monitor and his heart rate was climbing (160). I believe this is the only reason she came and not because I pushed the button. She was very snarky and seemed annoyed with Josh. We both tried to settle him down and after a few minutes he started turning blue. At this point she left the room. I ran after her and said, ”Where are you going, my son’s turning blue.” She replied, “I know I am going to get oxygen.” She came back a few minutes later and called another nurse to assist her. She put the mask on him. I was with him holding his hand and the last thing he said to me was, “Mom, don’t let me go.” After this I watched his eyes roll back and I heard him defecate. It was not until then, that the nurse pushed the code blue and everyone came running. I was pushed aside and taken to a quiet room. They worked on him for almost an hour but to no avail. I know in my heart he was gone before she even pushed the code. Protocol states that they are supposed to push the code as soon as a patient starts to change color but she wasted at least another 5-10 minutes before pushing the code.
I believe if I had not been present I would never have known the truth about what happened with Josh. I am sure they would have told me they did everything they could, and I probably would have believed them. Only after I got his records, did I realize the extent of the harm done to him.
They were truly incompetent with my son’s care. If they had kept in contact with Poison Control and did what they told them to, I am certain my son would still be here with us today. They caused him to end up in ICU by not treating his rising levels and prescribing him Haldol. This is why I cannot accept what happened. They killed him and he deserves justice. I pray that we will be granted an inquest. By medically clearing him too soon, prescribing Haldol when they were warned not to by Poison Control and miss diagnosing the DVT they clearly killed him.
Two of these doctors are supposed to specialize in internal medicine. Why was DVT not considered? These doctors should be criminally charged with negligence causing bodily harm and death. They have no idea what this has done to the surviving family and friends. When they took my son’s life, they took mine as well. Life will never be the same.
Perhaps like most people who have previously had minimal contact with the health care system, I had always thought very highly of healthcare professionals and hospitals, generally considering them epitomes of competence and virtue – I essentially trusted them unconditionally.
But, my experiences in advocating for the proper care of my father, Joseph, over a period of about ten years – from 2001 to 2011 – taught me that, though there are a great many competent, dedicated and honourable professionals in the system, mistakes do occur and, sadly, those involved rarely acknowledge, much less take responsibility for these mistakes.
As might be imagined, having been my father's primary caregiver and SDM for about ten years, I have a great number of stories to share regarding my experiences with the health care system.
Many of them are happy and heart-warming – some, in fact, even deeply moving.
For example, one of the nurses who cared for my father during the first of his two extended hospital stays, loved to dance – though her husband did not. So at a time when my father was at the 'wheelchair' stage of his recovery, she would regularly visit and 'dance' with him, as my father's favourite Italian folk music played happily in the background. I happened to visit during a couple of their 'dance sessions' and I was truly moved by her gentleness, kindness and warm affection towards my father.
Another nurse, who cared for him in his final year in hospital, when he was essentially bedridden, had grown up without knowing her own father; so, as she would later tell me, she had quietly 'adopted' my father while he was in hospital, visiting him often to just talk – or, on occasion, to ask for advice regarding her own life challenges.
And, yet another nurse would later tell me how, if she was having a particularly stressful day, because my father was such a peaceful and gentle man, she found it helpful to just go and sit with him – even if he was asleep.
Sadly, though, I experienced my share of difficulties along the way; and, many of my stories are quite harrowing and almost beyond belief – because of all of the mistakes that occurred and all of the unnecessary suffering that those mistakes caused my father, before I finally discarded the 'rose-coloured glasses' of unconditional trust in 'the system' and learned enough about his health issues to be able to help him.
It is less than a year since my father passed away, so there are many experiences that I am still not able to talk about; but, I have found that I am able to at least write about those experiences that ultimately turned out well.
So, for now, I would like to share just one of those stories – one which, though it relates to a particularly difficult hospital experience, has a decidedly happy ending.
January – June 2007: Duodenal Ulcer / Nosocomial Infections / Near-Fatal Adverse Effects of Prednisone In early January 2007, my father was admitted to hospital to receive care for internal bleeding caused by a duodenal ulcer.
But, an initially-projected 2-week hospital stay turned into an almost 6-month stay after a series of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections – Pneumonia, UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), C-Diff (Clostridium Difficile), MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) – and the severe adverse (toxic) effects of a powerful medication, – Prednisone, almost killed him.
Shortly after being started on prednisone, my father experienced the following adverse (toxic) effects: severely compromised moods and cognitive function; severe diabetes and total insulin dependence; parchment-thin and extremely fragile skin; severe heel ulcers that eventually necrotized, putting him in danger of his loosing his lower limbs; and, severe loss of body weight, from about 170 to 110 lbs –- among, perhaps, other problems. (At his worst, my father looked very much like a WWII concentration camp prisoner – truly, virtually at death's door.)
Sadly, though, in spite of the obvious drastic deterioration in my father's condition, his entire medical team was in complete and 'determined' denial about the near-fatal adverse (toxic) effects of prednisone, repeatedly insisting that my father was “getting the very best medical care possible” and that Prednisone “may well have been keeping him alive” – as if repeating these obvious untruths enough times would ultimately make them true, or at least convince me that they were true.
Furthermore, they continually reminded me that my father was '87 years old', and that his condition was the result of the natural decline of a man his age, and that we should not expect him to return home.
“Be sure that his affairs are in order.”, I was told, many a time.
On two occasions, I asked for family meetings with my father's medical team to discuss his condition and possible remedies; but, his MRP (Most Responsible Physician) refused to attend, insisting that he was “satisfied with [my] father's progress.” (Honestly, that's exactly what he said.)
That absurd impossible statement remains forever fixed in my memory – like some unbelievable 'doublespeak' out of George Orwell's prophetic dystopian novel on the dangers of unchecked totalitarian power, entitled '1984'.
The situation would have been laughable, had it not been so profoundly tragic, as my father's condition continued to worsen.
As a result, it was only after I provided the medical team with several peer-reviewed articles that detailed Prednisone's known adverse effects, and I persisted in my efforts for a reconsideration regarding 'Prednisone', that my father's doctor eventually, though very reluctantly, agreed to slowly taper the dosage.
Thankfully, within days, his condition began to improve noticeably; and, about a month later, with 'Prednisone' having been stopped, and with all adverse effects reversed, my father was able to leave the hospital and return home, the same way that he had entered –- walking on his own two feet.
Everyone at the hospital was astonished -- and, naturally, my family and I were most grateful.
And, my father?
Well, after about a month of home rehabilitation had made him strong enough to resume his self-taught post-retirement hobby of wood-sculpting – with only hand tools and working on large 6-7 foot tree trunks, believe it or not – in keeping with his reserved understated nature, he was 'quietly jubilant', simply happy that he was still alive to pursue his passion.