Discharge procedures

Earlier today, I had gone to help out a relative who had been admitted to hospital, and who was getting discharged today. The procedure was bizarre, to say the least.

A little before noon, a nurse walked into the room announcing that the discharge formalities were being put in place, and asked us if we had insurance cover (we didn’t). She reappeared five minutes later in order to remove the thing through which the intravenous drip and medicines had been administered. We thought it was time for us to leave, and informed people at the relative’s home to get lunch ready. What we didn’t know was that the “release” process would take nearly three more hours.

Every few minutes, I would walk up to the nurse station on the floor, and ask them when the discharge would happen. For the first one hour, they would tell that the bill would be ready “in ten minutes”. Finally I lost patience (my loss of patience doesn’t exactly make me an appropriate choice of personnel to manage discharge, I know) and asked them to direct me to the person who was actually preparing the bill. The bill was ready a minute after I appeared in front of that person, and it had been settled in the next five minutes.

A word here about the billing procedures. The relative’s ward was on the fifth floor, and I went down to the basement (“floor minus two”) to the billing section where I got the bill. I had to then take the bill and walk up to the ground floor to the cash section to make the payment, and once again take the receipt back down to the basement to get a printed bill.

Anyway, I thought most of the ordeal was done and proudly announced to the nurses at the nurse station that the bill had been cleared and they should let us go. But the discharge summary remained, and for the next hour or more, they said it would be ready “in the next ten minutes”. And once it was done, a nurse had to run down to the basement (yet again!) to collect it and get the signature of the doctor on duty. And run back up six floors (in another bizarre policy, hospital staff are forbidden from using the elevators!).

Then there was the set of prescriptions that were delivered to us regarding the medicines we had to buy for the following one week (and I’ll write a separate post on drugstores located within hospital premises). This wasn’t the first time I was helping someone get discharged, and this wasn’t the first time the discharge process took this long. From my own anecdotal experience, and from that of other relatives who I was talking to today, this is more the norm than the exception.

This makes me wonder why most hospitals, without fail, have such screwed up discharge procedures? Is this a matter of such low priority that all hospitals can consistently choose to ignore it? It is not like the amount of work that needs to be done is immense, so I wonder what prevents hospitals from streamlining the procedure? Or, like some hotels do, fix a discharge time so that they can batch process the procedures?

The problem, in general, with people in businesses that makes them feel noble, I tell you, is that they are not willing to heed to advice. And are not willing to question themselves enough. The nobility of their profession, they believe, places them too high to deal with mundane trivialities such as time taken to discharge a patient! And I’ll write a separate post soon on people in noble professions.


I spent this evening at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). They have this concept of “target free friday nights” where they allow visitors free entry after 4pm on Friday evenings (on Friday alone, the museum is open till 8pm), so I happily went to take advantage of it. It was already 630 by the time I got there and I had to make a pit stop at the museum cafe since I was awfully hungry, yet it allowed me more than sufficient time to inspect all that I had to inspect.

I have a confession to make. I’m not a big fan of art. It doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate art. Just that I don’t have the patience to look at a picture from several thousand angles and make several thousand interpretations and then pass judgment on it. In that sense, for me, art is not like writing, it’s more like the cinema. See it once, form judgment, maybe blog about it and move on. I’m mentioning this here because I don’t want you to form wrong impressions of my while reading this essay.

I had a bit more than an hour to cover the museum and I spent most of my time on the fifth floor, in the “paintings and sculpture 1” section. This had a fair bit of hifunda stuff, but my level of interest in art is such that apart from Picasso, I don’t remember any of the artists’ names. Even if some of these pictures were to be shown to me in some quiz some day I don’t think I’ll recognize them. Some of it was brilliant, though, and I regret not taking along my new camera (I went straight from work). I hope to make amends by taking along my camera when I visit the Metropolitan Museum tomorrow.

I found most of the work underwhelming, though. I felt that this whole idea of “sculpture” is a complete fraud, and the biggest fraud of them all is Marcel Duchamp (no, I didn’t see “fountain” but saw some of his other “artwork”). Looking at everything it felt like I too can assemble a bunch of random objects, call a bunch of brilliant friends and ask them to interpret, and I have a great piece of art! I felt similarly underwhelmed by looking at Piet Mondrion’s paintings. Just feltĀ  like a random collection of lines.

Ok so now I’ve got this fantastic idea – of “art parties”. Basically the hosts have to collect a set of random objects, or draw some random stuff on a canvas and get in a bunch of intellectual friends. Liquor should be served and under the influence of alcohol, the brilliance of the friends will flourish, and important insights about the art will be made! New interpretations will come up, new art will get formed. Then, all guests together create another piece of art, and all together will interpret it. Great art will be produced in copious amounts by this process!

I continued my way downwards through the museum. Nothing else worth of mention here was found. There was some brilliant stuff which I wanted to hang on my walls. There was mostly stuff that I considered ordinary. Oh, and I must mention that the most underwhelming stuff (in my opinion) was in this hall sponsored by Richard S Fuld Jr. Now you know why a certain company went under a year back!