Health
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Rules are put in place for good reasons: obey them

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital


I ran a military hospital during Desert Shield. When we sent our troops to the Persian Gulf, we put our bases in the U.S. on a heightened alert. That meant that you needed an ID card to get on the base. It meant that we closed all entrances to the hospital except one. It meant that we checked all packages at the entrance. It meant that we checked everyone's ID card again at the entrance. It made things very inconvenient for patients. It also made it safe for them. There is always a balance between safety and convenience in the hospital environment. If you ensure patient safety, you make it inconvenient for patients and their families. There are stories every year about babies being stolen from hospitals in this country. That is why all hospitals have taken steps to prevent this. The best way of preventing this is to allow no visitors on the maternity unit except for the father of the baby. That would stop the problem. However, it would create other problems of inconvenience. Back in the old days mothers had to stay for three days or more. Relatives wanted to see the new baby. Three days was a long time to wait. We frequently now discharge infants at 24 hours. It is reasonable to ask how many people really need to see the baby before that. Occasionally we will hear a story about a patient in a hospital being assaulted. This, too, is something that could be prevented. In order to prevent something like this, the hospital would have to have strict rules about visitors. Individuals would need to be checked at the door. Each individual would need to have an ID badge that would have to be displayed during the visit. The number of visitors would be limited. The visiting hours would be limited. Many of us remember when that used to be the routine. Most hospitals have relaxed those rules. However, there are reasons for thinking about whether those relaxed rules are the right way to do things. As we look at the world we live in, it might make sense to think about the balance between patient convenience and patient protection. We have certainly put many things in place to protect patient confidentiality. It would be logical to have things in place to protect patient safety. However, it is also logical to not inconvenience patients. There is probably no right answer. What we need to know is that when hospitals do have rules that seem inconvenient, they are usually there for a good reason. We need to respect those reasons. We need to understand those reasons. We probably should even applaud those reasons.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.
Blood Bank suggests a way to cool off during the summer months

When the temperature is climbing and the air is getting sticky, here's an alternative way to cool off: reserve a chair in one of the Blood Bank of Delmarva's two state-of-the-art bloodmobiles. "The bloodmobile are a great way to donate where you live or work," said Robbie Tarpley Raffish, a spokesperson for the Blood Bank. "We're all about cool on the bloodmobilesÉ cool air, cool drinks and, during June 27 through July 9, a cool gift for everyone who donates." A single blood donation can save up to three lives and takes less than one hour from start to finish. The actual donation usually takes just five minutes: registration, the personal interview and time in the canteen eating cookies after the donation round out the time. Members and donors can make plans to donate by selecting the regularly schedules bloodmobile stop that is most convenient from the schedule below. To make an appointment to donate blood, call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8. Blood Bank of Delmarva is a non-profit, community service program that provides blood for the 18 hospitals and 13 renal care centers throughout Delmarva. More than 75,000 blood donations are needed each year for patients across the Delmarva Peninsula. For more information about the Blood Bank, visit www.delmarvablood.com. For membership information or to schedule an appointment to donate, call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8. Blood Bank of Delmarva Bloodmobile local schedule for June and July: Seaford/Blades, June 17, 24 and July 5, 15 and 29.