Wednesday, June 21, 2006

When patients go AWOL

Yesterday, when I left the hospital. I saw a man on the sidewalk wearing the standard hospital gown, well 2, one to cover the back and one to cover the front.

He was coming out the the ER and carrying the "Patient Garment" bag. He crossed the street at the crosswalk and I don't know where he went. I have often seen patients, usually men, standing in hospital gowns, with no shoes, bags of stuff, waiting on the other side of the road at the bus stop. I have also seen security outside.. looking for patients, or patrolling to keep the squatters off the benches. The problem is that once a patient leaves the hospital property, we, the medical staff, can't do anything about it. Also, I don't know these men, they may be aggressive, have mental issues, etc.

It is a hard place to be.. we talk about dignity and respect. Freedom of choice.. but are they making the right one.. are they rational enough to do so. What is "good care" of this person at this point?

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