Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Check Yourself, Government

Trust your government. They are looking out for you.

The land of healthcare used to be my domain in my working years and I frequently found myself preparing for audits, reviews and inspections. If you've never been through an inspection by a government agency, you don't know what you are missing. Layer upon layer of bureaucracy resulted in sensible rules, crazy rules and pure "Gotcha!"

A sensible rule would be that you follow the doctor's orders exactly, right? Totally understandable.

Crazy rule? Here is an example: Everything you do in healthcare requires a policy, and government auditors will ask to see them. Once an auditor refused to read all of the policy we had on file; she stopped at the end of the first section. She said it was incomplete. I told her the rest of the policy was on the reverse side of the sheet. She informed me that a sheet is one sided and a page is two sided; since I had called it a sheet, she could only look on one side. She cited us as having no policy.

How in the world does that help anyone? Why is that necessary? Crazy rules are very close to gotcha rules, the next level of idiocy. If an auditor cites a crazy rule, it transforms to a gotcha rule. Once, an auditor scraped the cherries off of the patients' cheesecake until they found one that wasn't exactly two ounces. She looked insane doing it. When she finally found one that was 1.75 ounces, the facility received a citation. Gotcha. Then all the patients asked who had been messing around in their dessert (they wouldn't eat it). 

A gotcha would be any rule that doesn't seem to improve the quality of care for a patient or make for a safer environment. It's unnecessary, and nothing is worse than seeing your final evaluation marred by a gotcha type citation.  

All these rules, big and small, brought to you by your goverment agencies, in pursuit of your well-being. 

To recap...lots of rules...zealous auditors...plenty of rules to go around. The government is watching everyone, but themselves, apparently

The past week's reports of dangerous biological specimens hanging around at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and "a secure government research lab near Washtington" really has me fired up. Here we have vials of small pox forgotten for years in the "super secure facilities." The more I hear about it, the more bone-headed (and less super) it sounds. 

If small facilities and hospitals had to hire staffs to keep in check, I am certain that the CDC and secure government research labs did the same, on a much grander scale. You're telling me that a highly educated staff with no purpose but maintaining the security of those institutions overlooked smallpox? And those brains still work there?

Let me help. Here are some starter guidelines:
  • Clean out your refrigerator, CDC. Now, I've never had leftover smallpox and anthrax. As it happens, I am all out even as I write this. I know this because my husband attacks the refrigerator with a vengeance on trash day. After a year, nothing is worth keeping, they say.
  • Look inside that Howdy Doody lunchbox in the back of the refrigerator. That's right - all the way in back. Any small pox in there? That is a no-no.
  • See that sack marked Property of Typhoid Mary? I think that has to go.
  • If you can't keep track of dangerous biologicals, at least refrain from mailing them. That just seems to cause more difficulty. You can't put vials of anthrax in envelopes marked "important stuff", you actually need to be careful with that stuff.
Even scarier: once they found these vials, they had to test them. That's right, put it back in the hands of the dweeb. We were assured, prior to testing, that these biologically hazardous samples were dead (they weren't, by the way). Why didn't they go straight into an incinerator? Nope, let's make one more possible instance of mishandling before we say goodbye.

Reports have the audacity to remind us that these facilities are the best in the world. That just means that every Hollywood movie plot that has society falling due to a faux pas at some lab is probably more accurate that what we are led to believe. 

We're doomed.

Meanwhile, in small town America, a state auditor is messing with grandma's dessert - to protect her, of course.


  1. Ahh, but the strawberries that's... that's where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with... geometric logic... that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I'd have produced that key if they hadn't of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officers...

    - Hunphrey Bogard as Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny (1954)

    Hi, Cherdo! I agree that there are far more important concerns than the exact weight of cheesecake cherries. I am also nervous about the situation at the CDC. I'm sure if we only knew the extent of the ineptitude that exists in most government agencies we would freak.

    Mrs. Shady is a healthcare professional and spends hours every evening doing homework - completing forms and summaries. She frequently complains about the bureaucracy.

    I hope you are feeling better, dear friend. I just wanted to remind/inform you that my 6th anniversary blog post is coming up this Sunday. There will be Dixieland jazz, food kiosks, clowns, jugglers, mimes, pony rides, games of chance, a dunk tank and yours truly will be there in person to sign autographs (a dollar ninety-eight each). You're invited!!! Yes YOU! After that Sunday post I will be taking a three week break from blogging to visit family in California. Please understand that I will be unplugged - away from all electronics the entire three weeks and therefore will not be stopping by The Flipside. If you'll let me back through the door (after I show you my hand stamp) I will be happy to pick up where we left off and continue to grow this wonderful friendship when I return in early August. Thank you, dear Cherdo!

    1. Happy Bloggety Blog Anniversary, Shady! I shall visit and behave myself (as best I can). It will be a great send off for you, and sustain me till your return. If anyone dare comment and use more than one pun, I shall delete them and never think of it again. Hope you have a wonderful trip.

      "They say Californy is the place you oughta be..."

  2. I've been in Willy Dunne Wooters' apartment -- once. God only knows what he has growing in his refrigerator.


    1. Long ago, I decided an emergency Mom-cleaning was necessary at one of my son's apartment.

      I don't recommend it. It still gives me the chills and a slight case of nausea whenever I think of it.



Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo