An empowering toolkit and personal memoir
Questioning Protocol is the multiple award winning book from author Randi Redmond Oster.
It is written in the first person, present tense and takes the reader on a candid, scary, honest journey from one medical procedure to the next. Readers ride alongside Randi in the ambulance in the dead of night, wait beside her as she stands guard over her son’s gurney as he seizes in the overcrowded emergency room, and root for her as she challenges and questions changing directions from multiple doctors.
Randi lived with her son in the hospital for nearly a month. From her son’s bedside, she logs the comings and goings of doctors and health care workers, interviews families of patients, researches treatments and diseases, and logs it all on her laptop to the beep, beep, beeping soundtrack of the IV machines. Randi uses skills learned during her corporate GE executive leadership training plus tough lessons learned as a kid in the Bronx to gain control of her son Gary’s health care.
Randi’s tale takes an abrupt turn when she has to rush her son to the hospital for a second emergency surgery, where she discovers that another child has been readmitted for the same reason. As she witnesses her son once again enduring the violation of tubes, IVs and a growing battery of tests, Randi realizes more procedures do not necessarily mean a better outcome. There seems to be a little to no transfer of knowledge nor trust between staff. Randi finds she has to repeat answers to the same questions over and over again to a multitude of specialists. Redundancies can be harmful to the patient; repeated tests can result in harmful side effects.
This is clearly not an efficient system. Randi understands complex systems. She led an engineering team in the design of the Electronic Combat System for the Stealth Fighter and delivered the multimillion-dollar program on schedule and under budget. She is not intimidated by complexity or huge egos or scare tactics.
Randi sets out to collect data to make process improvements, just like her corporate quality training taught her. In GE she was trained not to blame people for problems but to improve the process. With better systems, everyone’s work level improves and so do the results. Deep down she believes the doctors’ and health care workers’ goals are better health outcomes for patients, and not repeat business. But as she pursues the hospital staff for answers she feels like a caged animal roaming the floor. Apparently, transparency is not a hospital protocol. She discovers it is up to loved ones to take a long-term viewpoint for care and to advocate on the patients’ behalf.
Throughout this true tale, readers meet Oster’s quirky family and friends, who enter and leave scenes almost as characters in a sitcom. The plot isn’t funny, though; everyone in the book is helping – or hindering – the Osters in the quest to get to the bottom of their eldest son’s medical crisis.