Epilogue: Case Study Ellen—Good Policy is Not Enough
These last few months have been so intense. I have seen health care providers who struggle as they try to care for patients while others acted as if caring for a patient was a burden. It was at the point of patient care that I saw the greatest variability in how someone was treated.
I remember the nurse in the step-down unit who had said that the IV should be changed every 72 to 96 hours and became annoyed that after 96 hours I asked how come the IV had not been changed. Her response was that she was dealing with more pressing patients and she would get around to it. It was clear that the needs of the individual had become either dominated or subservient to some benchmark or target. This is not the health care any of us want or deserve.
As all this occurred I contacted the leadership at Georgetown University Hospital and they were responsive to my many concerns. They made it clear that the policies they had developed had not been followed. All were apologetic and all apologies were accepted but the bottom line is that the patient suffered and died.