Archive for Medicalese – Page 2

Drugs, Doses, Dread & Delivery Options

pills

Around breakfast time, I usually shake out several pills into the palm of my hand . . .

The nurse arrived and sat beside my mother in the dimly lit hospital room.

One of the first things he said was, “This won’t hurt.”

He lied.

He was there to place a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC, or “pick”) into Mom’s upper right arm. She’d been offered Dilaudid—a brand name for hydromorphone, a narcotic stronger than morphine—for pain management. The medication would be housed in a CADD pump (Computerized Ambulatory Drug Delivery) connected to her PICC line. The linked pump and the catheter would give a predetermined, regular amount of medication to ease her physical agony. A “button” could be pressed on the CADD pump for additional dosages.

Are your eyes glazing over with all the medicalese?

Mom’s body was riddled with cancer and the two surgeries undertaken to “relieve” discomfort had added complications. As I calmly write this three years after her death, I understand why she said “Yes” to that PICC line: she wanted the wrenching pain to end and she was ready to die.

But the nurse, who seemed rightly weary in the near midnight hour when he entered Mom’s room, first caused more pain.

He swabbed her arm with disinfectant and inserted a needle.

She grimaced.

I held her left hand. Watching her tore my heart apart. Read More →

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Hospice & HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) could also be labeled big and cumbersome . . . but don’t get in its way either!

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) could also be labeled big and cumbersome . . . but don’t get in its way either!

When saying or hearing HIPAA, I sometimes imagine a hippo.

The hippopotamus—“water horse” from the Greek—is the third largest land animal. It’s cumbersome, thick-skinned, and appears to have been created by a committee forced into decisions before a deadline eliminated funding. The native-to-Africa beast is remarkably fast, whether running or swimming . . . so don’t linger if a hippo heads in your direction!

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) could also be labeled big and cumbersome . . . but don’t get in its way either!

HIPAA irks me. I rarely remember the letters creating the acronym: HIPPA, HPPA, or HIPAH? And I usually fail to correctly identify what the letters stand for. Doesn’t the “I” mean Information and shouldn’t the “P” be for Patient? Why, please, was the awkward “portability” ever considered as a useful word for the average consumer? Read More →

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Death Certificates and Heart Failure

county-clerk-300x225Death certificates are some of the worst reading material you’ll ever own.

But they are necessary for the “business” after a loved one’s death. I suggest purchasing a number of certificates, with extras stashed in a file instead of requesting a few more and then a few more.

On a practical note, the mortuary handling the death will most likely create and complete the death certificate. Official copies can be obtained from a county clerk’s office*.

Insurance companies, banks, and similar institutions requiring proof of death will often want the legal certificate issued with the county’s seal. However, when handling my parents’ estate, the companies that requested an official certificate versus those that didn’t even want a copy of a copy were never predictable.

You will scrutinize the certificate, confirming the facts are accurate about your beloved: date and place of birth, full name, his or her “usual occupation,” location of the grave, and what is

The cause of death . . .

Will death’s cause surprise you? My father’s certificate proved unsettling. According to the one-page document printed on sturdy paper, Dad died from the mundane . . . “Heart Failure.” Read More →

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