[W]e will work together with you to find what is going on as soon as we can.” … “[W]e will periodically check on you. But if you ever need anything, please feel free to let us know. We are here for you.” This lack of empathy leads to mistrust and a heightened degree of anxiety on the part of the patient.
2) A lack of hourly rounding. Many patients sit in examining rooms or in their room at a hospital waiting for care without anyone coming in to check and see if there is anything that the patient needs. Frequently, patients are told that the nurse or the doctor will be in shortly only to be disappointed without explanation when hours upon hours go by without the promise being fulfilled.
3) Physicians use medical language, but fail to explain in non-medical terms what the diagnosis or condition was. Let’s face it; we all did not go to medical school. Lawyers are taught to speak in simple terms and not use fancy legalize. Keep it simple stupid! Doctors too speak in a foreign language and fail to explain in simple understandable terms what a medical condition means and the significance of the disease process to the patient. An example is that a patient may have swelling in their lower leg and may be provided treatment for a DVT, but never explained what a DVT is so the patient understands the significance.
4) No partnership statements. Physicians don’t include patients in their care enough and fail to recognize the importance of their own patient in the process of providing safe medical care. The relationship between patient and professional is not about giving orders; it’s about forming a partnership. All patients should be asked, “What would make this an excellent experience for you?” “What does great care mean to you?” Working as partners in healthcare leads to quality improvement and better clinical outcomes. This has been shown over and over again.
5) Problems with hand-off. Again, shift changes can lead to failure in communication that can seriously harm a patient resulting in a failure to follow-up on tests ordered during the previous shift or vital communication from nurse-to-nurse or physician-to-nurse during shift changes. We have seen this rush from end of shift to the next shift result in labs overlooked, test results not reported timely, orders not followed through and other basic communication issues that are simply unacceptable. There should be a zero tolerance for such basic functions when one healthcare provider takes over or consults with another provider in the care of the same patient. Consistency and thoroughness is key. Doctors and hospitals should never put a patient’s health and well-being at risk, especially on the weekends, in the evenings, during shift change or when there is a shortage of staff.
Being an active part of the healthcare field is critical. Doctors and hospitals do not like to have claims asserted against them. However, of greater importance is that patients don’t like to be treated like second class citizens and when they are treated in such a manner and a doctor or hospital does not do his or her job and it results in injury, the doctor or hospital has only itself to blame. It is time to stop feeling sorry for doctors that get sued and look at why healthcare is not getting safer and why patients are unnecessarily being injured by healthcare providers. When we eventually put the focus on patient safety, fewer injuries will occur and fewer lawsuits will result.