Audacious Audits


                                               (image courtesy:

Auditing of a company is a big deal and after having worked for many years and in a variety of companies all I know that it is not merely to do with the inspection of accounts (at least that’s what I understood!). I have been asked to read and memorise the company’s fact sheets just in case the supposedly God-like auditor stopped by at my desk and asked me a random question! The whole organisation is shook up then for a few weeks that lead up to those crucial 3-5 days of auditing. At my level I never took it seriously. I was doing my job and that was it. Of course I did go through the fact sheets and did all those things that I was never told to do in the first place. Well, nobody ever showed up at my desk and neither did I even remotely realise when the auditors were in the building. I however did get to know when they were gone as the bigwigs of the company followed by their minions heaved a sigh and everything was back to its original form!

My whole perspective of looking at the auditing process changed when I become an observer of it recently. It happened in a premium hospital. The hospitals have their audits too I realised!

So as I fell into an unwanted yet unavoidable slumber one night on the bed next to the recovering family member in the hospital room, little did we realise that my family member’s cannula ( a thin tube inserted into a vein through which fluids and medicines are administered) had come off – his only source of being fed! I could faintly hear the movement of the night-duty nurse around his bed and trusted that all was being taken care of. Only the next morning, after he started to get splitting headache (due to empty stomach/post-surgery effect) we realised that all was not correct. The nurse came strolling in the room and still didn’t seem in any hurry to get the cannula fixed. How difficult would it have been for her to fix it? Considering that most patients have a cannula inserted prior and post their surgeries it shouldn’t really have been a big task for her. She instead just checked his ‘vitals’ (bp, sugar, etc) for her daily record before she said that she would be back after attending another patient.

And when our young nurse did return, she was again in no mood to re-insert the cannula! Was the patient supposed to be left hungry all this while? Instead she started to open the drawers of the little cupboard that was assigned for my father. She began to arrange all the things properly. I really thought she was looking for something but all she did was clean up the drawers (took good 10 minutes) and then started to fumble in her coat’s pocket for something. And then she took out a key and locked the cupboard!

Hello, what about the cannula? Oh, I have to attend to the other patients too. Maybe she meant attending to the little cupboards of the other patients but she said she would be back soon! Finally she came back along with a senior nurse who helped in getting the cannula reinserted.  So, she didn’t know as a professional nurse working in a premium hospital as to how to insert a cannula! She could have called her colleague many hours ago too!  And cleverly, this was all done just in time before the doctors’ morning round began! She could sense the disappointment on my face and quietly came up to me and said, ‘we have our audits going on.’ No wonder she was taking care of the other mess like the drawers first!  And then she sheepishly said, ‘please don’t complain to the doctors!’ I could see her nit-infested hair strands and really wished she didn’t come any closer!

My relative was much better in the hours that followed and I didn’t complain about the nurse. Hospitals, as I realised looking at the plush services offered to the patients, are of course like any other profit-making organisation and so is its auditing system! But should a patient become a victim of the organisation’s auditing process?  Organisations,  hospitals in particular, needs to re-look at the whole process of auditing. Perhaps they should make it a daily affair so that everyday each and every detail as per the auditor is taken care of ..the cupboards can be kept clean everyday! Or the auditors need to make a surprise visit so that it keeps the whole organisation on its toes daily- just like the taxman who can knock on your door anytime.

Humanitarian auditing, at least in private hospitals is not difficult to achieve, is it? The patients are anyway not getting any discount on their fees so why should they tolerate the nuisance surrounding the audits!