Hospital Notes

Contains adult language and wild generalizations on the basis of small, unrepresentative samples.

1. If you're in a German hospital, chances are your postal address will be eight lines long. Your correspondent can leave lots of those out without the letter being late, but the letters-plus-number combination that denotes which floor of which house you're on (e.g., ONC 2) is not among them.

2. How to cut health care costs, pt. 1: I really can't see the need for each patient receiving a lush collection of full-colour brochures printed on apparently expensive paper which contain hardly any uselful information.

3. Close to elevator doors there are buttons which waiting people can press to indicate that they would like to use the elevator. At one point in history a clever engineer came up with the idea that it would be useful if users of elevators could indicate not only that they would like to use one but also whether they want to go up or down. That was after 1965.

4. The classic white nurse's uniforms seem to be going out of fashion. Which is a fucking shame, it is. If I were Gary Becker I'd now hypothesize that heterosexual men's (but not women's) behaviour will change towards the more healthy, ceteris paribus.

5. Female nurses used to be addressed "Schwester [first name]". This also seems to be going out of fashion, the correct thing to say now becoming "Frau [last name]".

6. If I had a larger sample, I could test for a correlation between those two phenomena. Prediciton: It's high.

7. There is no contradiction between the following two statements: (a) D is a medical doctor in a German hospital. (b) D utters the following: "Well, for this medication you don't need a placebo-controlled trial because you can see it works." I guess you could make sort of this argument on Bayesian grounds. I also guess D couldn't.

8. A dialogue I had with the bloke I shared the room with:

I: Jesus, if you ask a nurse for an aspirin, that doesn't mean you'll get one. They gave me this fucking tea.

He: [Opens drawer and puts a tube of aspirins on the table] Take as many as you need.

I: Oh, thanks.

He: Had the same problem.

9. I would have preferred to have a single bedroom not only because I like my peace and quiet, but also because I like minimizing the risk of infection. In this country, you usually don't get single bedrooms because of costs. The same argument could be used in favour of four-bed rooms, etc.

10. How to cut health care costs, pt. 2: A visitor of mine noticed that not only did I not have a TV of my own in my room, but there was no TV at all in the room. Clearly substandard! To put it like this: I expect other people to chip in for my getting well just as I chip in for theirs. I do not expect them to chip in for my having a good time while being treated.

11. When I put the that argument to a fellow patient, stating that "all of that costs money", he replied: "No! It's a tenner a day, whether you have a TV or not!" Oh, well.

12. Just because someone's a psychology student doing her thesis on the basis of questionnaires, that doesn't mean she knows how to construct them.

13. How to cut health care costs, pt. 3: In this country, as well as others, offenders are often spared prison on the condition that they undergo treatment for the drug addictions they suffer from. I've never seen any numbers (readers?), but everybody knows that drug rehab can only work if the addicted person wants to stay clean.

14. There is a medium-sized correlation between people's smoking and people's coughing. And we're not talking about ONC 2 here.

15. A general rule about men watching football on the telly: In most samples there will be an inverse relationship between the quantity of someone's commentary and his knowledge about the game. This rule holds in a hospital context.

16. Unless they're on the verge of death, many people will make jokes about their condition even if it's serious. Hello ethnographers! Wink, wink!

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