January 14, 2000

Bedside Diplomacy

In the hospital, we give up our normal schedule and sleep patterns; we give up our normal food and clothing; we're in a place that has its own rules and its own language and its own customs. And in the midst of all this, there's this complicated human interaction we have to negotiate: We have to deal with doctors and nurses to get the care we need. In this show we hear stories of those delicate and sometimes not-so-delicate negotiations.


Host Ira Glass talks with Robert Lipsyte, author of In the Country of Illness, who tells a story of how one lady in New York won the hospital staff over to her side with one conversation. (4 minutes)

Is That Your Final Answer?

When Terry Shine's father was in the hospital, Terry and his brothers spent weeks trying to do whatever they could to help. But first they had to learn the language and customs of the average American hospital. For example, consider this question: Would their dad get better medical care if they dressed in cleanly pressed shirts and ties? This is an excerpt from Terry Shine's book Fathers Aren't Supposed to Die: Five Brothers Reunite to Say Goodbye. (15 minutes)

The Other Nursing Staff

No radio program about caregivers in a hospital would be complete without a few words about the caregiver that is the most omnipresent...in every room, in the waiting rooms, at the nurses' stations. It's television. To investigate its power in a medical facility, Nancy Updike went to the most television-friendly hospital imaginable: The one actual television stars go to when they get sick, Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles. (6 minutes)