Example two: A bed bound patient, recently released from hospital to a family caregiver, is seen by a visiting nurse, who checks blood pressure, blood sugar and so on. Caregiver asks what the blood pressure was; nurse responds “80 over 40; but everything is okay; you have everything under control” and leaves. Caregiver re-checks blood pressure – 80/40 – immediately calls an ambulance. Patient was going into septic shock, and might not have lasted the afternoon. Had the caregiver not asked, not been able to re-check, known what it means and called an ambulance, the patient could have died. So, yes: if you are a caregiver you absolutely must know what everything means: you are responsible. If you don’t know it for yourself (and if you are not a doctor or nurse you won’t and the internet won’t do it), ask the doctor exactly what you should know, and what things mean. If you cannot or will not do the job, the patient should not be in your care. There is no room for a “good idea, but” approach: either you are able to do the job with all that it involves, and willing to do it; or you should, for the sake of the patient, stand aside and let the job be done by someone who is both willing and able. And part of that is getting all the knowledge and skills you need.
B. I stress that if you are responsible for someone you must take the time – under guidance if necessary – to get all pertinent information and skills.
Next week, my response to Dr. G.
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