Thursday, December 13, 2007

Doin' It Duluth-Style

We just had a major Duluth-style snowfall in Boston. It's still snowing and I think it's supposed to get to well over a foot. The city's traffic was utterly paralyzed and I'm so glad I didn't think to drive this morning...I biked instead. Riding my bike home in the blizzard was no picnic; I probably walked it back about 40% of the way and was skidding like crazy, but managed to stay on the horse and laugh at grid-locked, frustrated drivers on the way.

Medical Topic of the Day: the role of "the sitter." What's a sitter, you may ask? When a patient is completely psychotic, unruly, demented, or at risk for harming themselves or others, it is possible to have them watched by a sitter. These are people who basically sit in a chair next to the patient's bed and watch them to make sure they don't do anything dangerous, like try to escape or pull out their beautiful new dialysis cather, and if need be physically restrain the patient.

I'll admit that it's not the most glamorous job in the world to be a sitter, and I'm sure they don't get paid all that much to do it. But through the years I've been shocked at how little sitters engage themselves in the patient's care. These people are sitting next to the patient for hours at a time--you'd think they'd want to ask some basic questions, such as "why is this patient in the hospital?", "did they have this important test done yet today?", "did the patient eat most of their lunch?" etc etc. Out of curiosity at least, if not for a desire to participate in some level of the patient's care. Yet in my experience, when I come into the room and ask the sitter even the most fundamental question, they will have no clue, and will distance themselves with a remark such as "I'm just the sitter." Ladies and gentlemen, our health care dollars at work...


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