Introduction

When my mom suffered a significant stroke a few years ago, I hastily made the three-hour trip to be with her.

The employees at the local hospital were kind and helpful, but also wildly disorganized and reactionary. My mother lay uncomfortably, without decent sheets or a warm enough blanket, for a day and a half while the hospital searched for a bed. After 36 hours without a wink of sleep, she finally got one in the intensive-care unit (ICU).

Once she was settled in, it felt as if a hundred questions a minute were flying at me. This wasn't easy; I was getting advice and recommendations from six different doctors, sandwiched between multiple procedures. It was an incredibly trying time.

I kept trying to pull all the pieces together in the hopes of making the right decisions for Mom. I was focused on saving her life and getting her well.

Something felt off, though. I thought that if I headed home to get a couple hours of sleep, I might figure out what it was. As I laid my head on the pillow, I thought to myself: The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

That's when it hit me: If the people at this hospital aren't competent enough to get my mother a blanket, I certainly didn't want them providing critical care to her. The way they achieved (or, in this case, failed to achieve) this one simple task was the way they'd handle all others, and that didn't instill a great deal of confidence in me.

I jumped out of bed and immediately began making phone calls. I knew ...

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