Pass forms for inpatient going out on pass
In November 1999, I went out on pass from St. Joseph’s inpatient psychiatric unit. At home, I crashed and burned. If I had had my car, I would have driven myself back to the perceived safety of the hospital but I was not allowed to have the keys to my car because I was on inpatient.
I could have called a taxi but I new the wait could be up to an hour and I could not maintain myself for that length of time. I could have called the hospital but I didn’t know the telephone number and was too distraught to look it up.
I took an overdose and lost consciousness. The next day, according to what I was told, I called 9-1-1, was ambulanced to the Emergency Room, crashed, was transferred to the ICU and put on life support for a month.
Afterwards, one of the things I advocated for was the patient being sent on pass with the inpatient unit’s phone number. All I asked was that every patient going out on pass be given a form that said: “The unit telephone number is _____; your staff person’s name is _________. If you are in trouble and need help, call us.” That’s all it would have taken to save my life.
I remained on inpatient psychiatry for six months after the overdose and the staff did not produce such a form. About a year later, I heard that they had started using one. I guess a committee had to develop it.
Inpatient psychiatry and gowns
All inpatient psychiatric units require you to get up and get dressed in your regular clothes every morning. Hospital gowns are only used (a) when you’re getting some physical exam or treatment; (b) when you’re getting ECT (shock treatment); (c) when they want to control you. If you are striped naked and required to wear a hospital gown then you become extremely vulnerable and more concerned about covering your ass than anything else. You become much more compliant to the will of the staff.
How would you rate Joslin clinic as a psychiatric clinic in America?
Pretty lousy, considering Joslin Clinics are for the treatment of diabetes, not mental illness. Dr. Elliott P. Joslin was the first doctor to specialize in diabetes. He attended Leicester Academy, Yale College, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, wrote “The Pathology of Diabetes Mellitus,” and died in 1962.
Diabetes is an insulin problem; insulin is produced by the pancreas; the pancreas is part of the endocrine system. In Syracuse, SUNY Upstate Medical Center’s outpatient endocrine services are part of their Joslin Diabetes Center.
After I stopped taking drugs—most especially antidepressants—we discovered that my adrenal glands (which are also part of the endocrine system) were producing abnormally high levels of stress hormones, which can make you crazy.
One night I ended up in the Upstate Emergency Room being interviewed by a resident who’d been there about a month. I was reporting on the work-up at the Joslin Clinic when he interrupted to snap, “I don’t want to hear about your rehab experience!”
I snapped back, “Joslin is your endocrine clinic!” The resident left my cubicle and sent someone else in to follow me. When a resident combines arrogance and ignorance, it’s the patient who loses.