My relative who is now out of the hospital and who has a very optimistic prognosis did indeed receive excellent medical care from Massachusetts General Hospital. Doctors were highly trained and experienced, empathic, thorough, attentive, and very good with answering a barrage of questions. Especially in post-op recovery, nursing care was observant, gentle, and compassionate, everything it should be.
HOWEVER, in light of some friends' criticism of medical care, specifically efforts to insert a needle for an IV feed, here in our area of Mexico, I would like to report that even in the best of the best (and MGH is the best of the best) in the US of A (let alone in crowded inner city hospitals) there can be Issues. And in this case, also pertaining to IV feeds.
The day before her discharge, said relative had to have her IV feed changed. She didn't actually need an IV anymore, but it was apparently unit policy that a hook-up for an IV line always be in the patient until discharge as a precautionary measure.
The designated IV needle-changing person entered the room with her little kit. She needed of course to use disposable gloves. The gloves were were hanging according to size in boxes by size on the wall. She tried a pair and found it too big. She left the ones she'd handled and not used on a counter. Then, after she had found and put on the ones she was going to use, she touched multiple surfaces and moved multiple things on counters, bed table, etc, with them on before beginning her efforts to insert the needle. First efforts to find a vein in the opposite arm from the one currently in use (efforts which to this observer looked brutal) failed after drawing unnecessary blood and leaving a nice red skin-breaking injury. Next effort was up on the elbow bend. It succeeded.
BUT after discharge the next morning, that wound became infected. Said relative returned with spouse to the floor of the hospital on which she'd been treated and where the IV needle installation efforts had occurred to seek aid. She was told she had to go to the emergency room of the hospital. So, four days after surgery and in a weakened condition and surely vulnerable to problems of contagion, she had to go to the crowded urban ER waiting room. VERY fortunately, completely by luck, they ran into her primary care doctor who eased the way.*
One thing that seems different to me in the US from here is that in the US more than here, in bureaucracies, especially if you are a stranger and not a big shot or a person with some influence, RULES IS RULES. RULES sometimes come before people, even when there are situations in which the people clearly need to come before the rules.
*One of the strengths of care at MGH is that they do operate on a team concept. There is a nice sense of continuity of care. There are a lot of very fine secondary features at MGH, too, including the family surgery waiting room where experienced volunteers and surgical nurses keep families informed of progress. AND there is WiFi. It was interesting to sit in this very 21st century waiting room where wires from multiple laptops stretched to numerous outlets and where people without laptops spent time on their Blackberries and IPhones. There were, it seemed, far fewer people reading paper magazines than using technology.
Another very fine characteristic of MGH is that its best of the best is not reserved for the rich or those with "Cadillac" health insurance. A cross-section of Boston, of New England, I suspect, fills the halls and patient rooms and waiting rooms.