Dealing with hospitals feels a lot like going down a rabbit hole. It can be mentally deranging even for us at Arizona Elder Care who do this professionally. Especially for those who don’t know what their rights are or how to speak the language.

Our client, an 80 year old Veteran with dementia, fell in his home due to unsafe living conditions. Sedona Medical Center diagnosed him with a broken shoulder and sent him home alone. Even after we vigorously argued that it wasn’t a safe discharge and he was having severe pain in his hip. We had him transported to the VA Hospital in Prescott, where they sent him for further testing at Yavapai Regional Medical Center. He was diagnosed with a fractured hip (which had been missed by the Sedona Medical Center) in addition to his broken shoulder. His hip was surgically repaired and after three weeks at Mountain Valley Rehab, he was moved to an appropriate level of care at an assisted living.

Our client went in for back surgery at Flagstaff Medical Center. But they found a heart condition that hadn’t shown up on previous testing. That led to several days of chasing down who was in charge of her care at the hospital. It continually shifted from the surgeon to the hospitalist to the cardiologist and back to the hospitalist. This was further exasperated by the regularly scheduled turnover of the hospitalists. It was crazy-making that tarnished the quality of care.

Our good friend was recovering from a recent surgery. While at home she started to bleed uncontrollably. She was admitted to Intensive Care at the Verde Valley Medical Center. Her daughter called us frantically because they were discharging her mother from Intensive Care after being there less than 24 hours. Instead of stepping her down to a lower level of care at the hospital for observation, they were sending her mother home alone with no support. Her mother was weak and disoriented and scared to death. We encouraged her to learn the mantra, “It isn’t a safe discharge.”

When our client broke his hip, the discharge planner at Verde Valley Medical Center repeatedly told us that if we transferred to another hospital for his surgery that Medicare may not pay for it. When confronted, that this was a blatant lie confirmed by Medicare, the discharge planner reported that she was just passing on information given by her superiors. We set up the hospital transfer ourselves, scheduled surgery with the preferred surgeon, and Medicare has covered the bills as expected. We were outraged that Verde Valley Medical Center was creating fear to generate revenue.

Our colleague called us in a panic on a Saturday to say her mother was being discharged home alone from the emergency room at the Sedona Medical Center with a broken femur. Discharge instructions were to have her call a surgeon on Monday to schedule a surgery. (You can’t make this stuff up.) With our help, our colleague was able to advocate for a hospital transfer by ambulance where her mother had a successful surgery at Flagstaff Medical Center the next morning.

Our friend, a mother of three young children, went to Sedona Medical Center with severe abdominal pain and was sent home with a report that all of her organs were functioning well. Several days later she returned when the pain became unbearable. She was told that her appendix had ruptured and then had emergency surgery at Verde Valley Medical Center. Had they caught it prior to the rupture, she wouldn’t still be fighting the infection and would have had a much better outcome. She hasn’t been able to work or take care of herself or her children for several weeks as a result of this.

Our greatest generation reveres the medical industrial complex as the gospel. It is our job to gather information and make objective decisions. Medical practice is just that and not everything that is spoken in a medical environment is in fact accurate or in your best interest. Call us at 928-639-1583 … before you find your loved one going down the rabbit hole!