When a Fever Tells a Different Story

I was sitting with my 83-year-old mother in the hospital when a nurse came in to check her vitals. She had been there a few days with an infection and was on a course of antibiotics.

The nurse said she had a fever. I didn’t think much of it at the time since she was already on antibiotics, but early the next morning when my mom’s doctor called after his daily visit, I mentioned the fever.

“What fever?” he asked.

The fever had not been recorded in my mother’s chart, the doctor said, and was an indicator that the antibiotics she was taking weren’t working and that the infection he had thought she had wasn’t what she had at all.

He then figured out what she did have and with a new course of antibiotics, my mother recovered well and went home later that week.

But without the doctor’s knowledge of the fever, my mother’s infection could have gotten worse and she might not have recovered.

I was grateful I happened to be at the hospital that afternoon and that my Mom had a doctor, her own doctor in the outside world, who had hospital privileges and called me every morning after his visits.

All of us are fallible, including beloved medical professionals. The best defense you can offer your loved one is to be alert to what’s happening and report anything that concerns you.

Medical professionals are there to serve you and your family. Don’t worry about being pushy. Your speaking out can make the difference in your loved one’s life.

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