Showing posts from April, 2014

What happens when there is no one to advocate for a patient?

I was recently told a story about an elderly patient on a medical ward. She was frail, almost 100 years old and spoke no English. She presented with a relatively minor ailment, however, at some point in her hospital admission became severely unwell. Due to a multitude of factors, not in the least her language barrier, her diagnosis was delayed and eventually the decision was made for palliation. She died soon after.

I heard this story from the perspective of someone in allied health who was extremely upset by it. To my surprise, he didn't care when I said that this particular condition was always terminal and palliation was always the outcome. That wasn't the point, according to him. The point, was that because she was non English speaking and had no family around, she slipped through the cracks. The point, he said, was that nobody fought for her.

At first I didn't understand this. How could he honestly believe that no one had fought for her? Like all hospital patients, t…