October 19, 2017

This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on October 18, 2017.

I have a good friend who is a deputy manager of a large hospital. What is your role, I asked him? I am in charge of quality control or, better said, professional protocols.

I did not understand the role, so he amplified: Thousands of people die in hospitals due to mistakes doctors make. His role is to analyze mistakes and improve protocols.

This was just an interesting statistic till I almost became the statistic.

For reasons no one knows, I have a destroyed shoulder. Need a new one. Was not a problem till now because I do not exercise to the degree it will destroy a shoulder. It became a problem when I started doing dialysis through the same hand attached to that shoulder.

In dialysis, you need to keep the hand in a certain angle and not move it for four hours. Three times a week.

My shoulder does not like that. I do not know if it was a nerve that revolted or a muscle that showed displeasure, but after my most recent dialysis I had the most, most, most excruciating pain imaginable. Honest, I would have committed suicide to stop the pain. I took four painkillers. Nada. I was hyperventilating from the pain, so I swallowed a lot of air. Now I had strong pain in my chest. Started throwing up. Nonstop.

My wife rushed me to the emergency room.

Now here is what happened:

Emergency room doctors have to practice triage and decide who is the most important patient to get the doctors attention. Pain in the shoulder is not on the top of the list. The doctors did not see me. Instructed the nurse to just sedate me and conduct a CT scan of my shoulder. She, being a nurse that follows instructions well did as told. Put me on my back and did the scan except I was unconscious and vomiting like crazy. No one told that the doctor and she did not tell him either.

My wife pleaded with the technicians not to put me on my back because I was throwing up.

She was escorted by security to the waiting room, too hysterical. I was put on my back. I kept throwing up and inhaled my own vomit. Now it was not just a shoulder pain anymore. I got pneumonia, became critically ill, and had to be taken to ICU (Intensive Care Unit). They had to suck the vomit out and use respirators for me to breathe. A social worker went to my wife to inform her that I was in critical condition, and it would be a good idea if she informed the family.

Topaz immediately flew in from New York. Shoham cancelled his lecture in Brazil and Sasa his music performances. That was it. There was a chance I was not going to make it to my eightieth birthday.

For two days, I was unconscious. On respirators. With a pipe up my throat.

It is over. I survived. And I learned a lot about life in a hospital.

It is a well-accepted theory that for a healthy life, three ingredients are needed: eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep (and have no stress). Well, hospitals do not follow this theory well.

Forget exercise in a hospital. As for food, my hospital prided itself on having a first-class dining service. Room service. A four-page-long menu with declarations of their mission to serve only healthy food.


How about bacon for breakfast? Pizza for lunch? When I challenged the dietitian, she said that it was up to the patient to decide what to order.


As for sleep, forget it. It appears as if the hospital is organized around efficient utilization of the doctors and nurses and not around effective medical intervention. There is a shift change at 7 a.m., so they wake up patients at 6 a.m. to do checkups. Wake the patient at night every few hours for one reason or another? Why not have one wake up and do all that is necessary in one shift?

Hospitals are enormous buildings. Starting to look like the Pentagon. It looks to me like a perfect way to get all the microbes and bacteria of all possible diseases in one place. Is this architecture really for better medical treatment or just to facilitate administration?

Also, we must be very cautious now of the trend toward specialization. The medical profession is getting more and more specialized. They know more and more about less and less, and the general practitioner, who is supposed to coordinate everything and supervise what the specialists do, is a dying breed. Not enough money in being a family doctor. Trust me, you need the family doctor as your advocate. When I left the hospital, I had a very interesting experience. I wanted to hug every tree on my way out. I loved every flower I saw. The clouds looked so friendly. The sunshine was so warming. How come I did not see that till now? Apparently, one must experience death to appreciate life.

Just thinking,

Ichak Kalderon Adizes

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes