Oops! Did I say prison instead of hospital? To me, the terms are interchangeable. Let’s see how they are similar:
Check Loss of basic human rights (cannot decide your fate)
Check Loss of bodily privacy (strip search similarities)
Check Visiting privileges may be suspended
Check Dictate what food you eat
Check Daily inspections
Check Parole hearings (discharge or dismissal)\
Okay, so let’s explore each of one of these individually. I have not ever been an inmate of a county, state, or federal facility but I have had the unfortunate opportunity to be both an inmate and a visitor to the hospital-prison system. As you may have read in earlier blogs, my husband had a heart attack late last summer. During his incarceration and my subsequent dealings with the hospital, it did indeed feel like a prison to both of us. I guess having a heart attack was not punishment enough.
First of all, we learned they don’t tell you everything you need to know. Whether that is part of their plan or an accident, I am not really sure but I think it is part of their plan. How could they do these events over and over again and make so many “mistakes?”
When they said he would be transferred to another hospital because they weren’t a full service hospital was true. However, they said he would be going to the other hospital in order to evaluate his treatment options. What they didn’t say is that neither he or I would be included or have the right to decide what treatment he would have. That, to me, is a loss of basic human rights. Do we not have the right to decide our life choices? Apparently, if you are hospitalized, you lose that right. Also, when they ask you about drugs you have had problems with in taking, they can decide “if” they will write down that information. Since they knew what was in store for him at the other hospital and what drugs would be used, they did not write down that painkillers and Versed had adverse side effects. They purposely put his life in danger because they wanted to be able to use fentanyl and Versed on him. The helicopter crew gave him fentanyl when he did not need it as the cath labs like to receive their incoming patients drugged and cooperative with what is about to unfold. That is the long and the short of their actions. They decide what they will do, how they will do it, and who will be involved. You are drugged and have no choice. They also have made the decision on how you live out the rest of your life. They took a man who believed in natural supplements although he hadn’t taken them in several years and who had no history of daily prescription drug use and made sure he would take some very powerful and damaging drugs for the rest of his life. That seemed kind of unbelieving and miffed that at his age, he wasn’t already on a regimen of prescription drugs. Drugs, after all, are big business. It would be interesting to see how much doctors and hospitals receive from big drug companies for prescribing their miracle drugs that have devastating side effects. You don’t have a say in prison who your guard is and who knows your business. It is the same way in a hospital. You are expected to be okay with whatever staff member they choose to treat you. They don’t care if men have male nurses but mainly females patients have female nurses for intimate care. You cannot object when they give your information to people not needing it like the people in the public hallway or a man (non medical) they assign to your family who will not go. He hears all your information even though he has been told to leave. He does not share with your family what is happening to you. It is a secret for only them to know. The hospital later says they have a right to have whoever they choose to have your information. That means if the only person available is a maintenance worker then they’ll send him to your family so he can have and hear all your private health information. Once you enter their doors, you have no rights be you patient or visitor.
As a prisoner, you have to submit to stripping naked and letting a stranger(s) look your body over, make notes, and probe cavities. You are then given a uniform to wear so you do not have your own personal clothing. In a hospital, you are stripped naked. You submit to strangers looking at your body, taking notes, and probing cavities even watching you pee and poo. You may be given a flimsy gown or paper to wear. Then again, like my husband, you may just lay naked and exposed for any and all to see until you become so cold that it affects your physical well-being. They may choose to give you nothing at all to cover. Mostly in a prison, the stripping is done in from of same sex onlookers but in a hospital male patients usually have to be naked for female strangers and onlookers. My husband had 4 females in the cath lab and at least 2 other laughing females in his CCU room alone with him for hours while he was drugged. And the one admitted that since she wasn’t able to figure out how to not expose him until I came into the room, he was naked and exposed for over 2 hours with these 2 females and all others who came and went from his room. It is very stressful thinking about what and why they did, and thinking about all the things they could have done that he doesn’t remember.
Prisons decide if and when you can have visitors. They can keep you in solitary confinement only allowing you to communicate with their chosen staff and not allowing you to communicate with your family. Hospitals decide when and if you can have visitors. They may keep you in isolation so you are more likely to be compliant with what they have in store for you and so your family cannot question what they have in store for you. They also may keep you in isolation because they really don’t care if you see your family or they see you. My husband was not allowed to see me nor I him before they forced him into having a procedure he had not agreed to nor wanted. Afterwards, he was kept isolated from us, his family, for more than 2 hours with no reason given. Usually it takes less than 30 minutes of secrecy to complete a transfer to a patient room. And why does a transfer have to be done in secrecy? It is like they think they are transferring a highly dangerous criminal whose gang will try to bust him out during transfer?
Prisons have set meals and set times you can eat. Hospitals will decide what type of diet they will allow you have. They will let you order from a selection of bland and tasteless food and make a note if you don’t eat it because it is too nasty to eat. During my husband’s incarceration, he was told he had to order from a certain group. However, when he would try to order, they in turn would tell him that food item was not allowed. If he didn’t replace it with what with the item they deemed acceptable, they would send another gross item in its place not caring whether he wanted it or not. It is a pattern in a hospital prison of not caring what the patient wants.
At prisons, there may certain times during the day that they conduct roll call or count heads. At hospitals, they make daily rounds with medical students and other nameless individuals. Unlike a prison, you may have to be exposed to these strangers as they all have the right to be curious and you are the object on which they are furthering their education in order to make big money. You, in return, get nothing out of it except having more of your personal dignity stripped away. In hospitals, they will wake you up to ask if you are sleeping. They come and go all day and all night. You never are without them unless you need them.
Prisons have parole hearings where you can go and tell them how you have improved and how sorry you are for whatever you did. You also know in advance when your sentence is over if there is no parole involved. In a hospital, you have no idea when they may decide that you can go. Your family has to be ready at all times to pick you up but yet hospital don’t think having them visit or keeping them informed is important. They may dangle incentives in front of you so you can leave early such as agreeing to be part of more intrusive programs where they can contact you once you leave the hospital so they may gather more data for their registries. If you don’t cooperate, chances are you will be leaving later than sooner. They do not like no for answer. They discuss the “release from hospital prison” and let you know what they have decided. As in any parole or release, there are terms you must agree to before they actually let you out. You must set up appointments and agree to further treatment. It is like they really can’t let you go without making sure they own you forever.
As you can see, there are many similarities between prisons and hospitals. The differences between the are striking. Prisons you don’t have to pay to go to but hospitals you pay huge money in order to be there. Prisons don’t want you to return but hospitals need for you to return as you are their cash cow. Prisoners have rights but hospital patients don’t. Oftentimes, patients are too ill to defend themselves and the laws are stacked against them. Lawmakers don’t care about hospital patients being abused and mistreated but have passed laws over the years for prison reform.
It is time that reform is done. Patients should not be treated worse than prisoners. A patient’s only crime is getting ill.