My last post about the flaws of the Greek healthcare system led to unexpected comments and conclusions: That public healthcare really sucks, and that the American system had better remain unchanged.
Don't get me wrong, I am by no means familiar with the American system (I've heard and read a lot, but didn't experience it myself), so I am not the one to say if it should be changed and how. But, at least as far as my own country is concerned, I am and have always been an avid supporter of public healthcare. Maybe in a future post we'll discuss about how this could work and benefit both patients and hospital employees. It may seem unreal and idealistic, but I think it could be done - if only someone was really willing to change the current horrible situation.
But before we talk about changes, it is important to describe what is really happening right now. So, our journey to The Twilight Zone featuring Greek hospitals continues...
If you think that winning the lottery is impossible, try finding a nurse in the Emergency department.
This is the second time I am writing about nurses, and taking in mind that the first time I was disagreeing with the fact that doctors and nurses are paid the same, while they don't work for the same hours and don't share the same responsibilities, you have every right to be suspicious of me. Maybe, like most doctors, I am suffering from "superiority/God complex", shunning nurses and flattering myself that I am much, much better.
Uh, I don't think so.
Because, let's face it - I am not. After all, I am just a clumsy Medical school graduate, still shaking when stitching (alert: This is NOT pleasant to watch - let alone experience!), almost pooping myself when an emergency comes in and I am alone in the room, even for a few minutes, while having no clue about most of the questions patients ask ("Will I get better?", "Is it too bad to eat half a roast lamb while suffering from gastric ulcer?", "Will the guys from Lost ever get out of this f-ing island for good?" - no sorry, the last one is a question I ask myself all the time, and not the patients!)
So yeah, I am not better, and I know it. The nurses know it. The whole hospital knows it. But it's ok. Because I'm not supposed to know everything right away. But please, dear nurse looking at me with a scornful look, help me. Teach me. Don't scowl at me in front of the (terrified) patient. And most importantly, don't leave me alone when I need you the most.
For some weird reason, becoming a doctor in Greece is much too popular than becoming a nurse. As a result, for every 5 doctors that beg for a job, there is only one nurse, who is always in high demand. And also for some curious reason, there are never enough nurses in the Greek hospitals. So, in order to deal with that, we have come up with the model of "Beaming-up-Nurse 3000", a special-patented nurse that manages to move from one clinic to another in seconds.
Or at least, she is supposed to. Because the nurses working in hospitals, compared to those that are actually needed to meet the needs, are much much less. As a result, the same nurse is supposed to cover the surgical department, while performing patch tests at the dermatology clinic, and measuring glucose levels in diabetic patients. All these cannot possibly be done at the same time.
The result? Huge lines of patients complaining about the long wait, doctors carrying samples to the labs, because there is no one else to take them down there, patients' relatives making the patients' beds and carrying them to the X-ray department themselves, students left alone to deal with life-threatening situations simply because there is no one else at the ER at that moment. It is CRAZY in there!
So no, I don't hate nurses. In fact, I love them dearly. So much, that I would like to have as many of them as possible. Please god, give me nurses. Because a good nurse can always save the day (and my own a$$ as well)...