Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Optimize Your Care While Hospitalized

It was interesting lunchtime conversation. A lone doctor listening to some highly experienced and capable nurses, reflecting on their work:

"If the patient's nice, it's a lot easier to want to go back in that room with them. Their reputation travels at the nurses station. But if they're mean, well, it's not as easy to go back in there, so I might not stop by as often."

"I agree, it's easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar."

Words to live by.



Elaine Schattner, MD said...

Wes, I think this maxim applies in many realms.

InTheWild said...

I don't work in healthcare, but I too like to work with people who are nice. Then again, the customers I work with aren't lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to machines or tubes, having their pee and poop monitored, being told when and what to eat, when and how to sleep, being aurally assaulted by overhead announcements day and night (or hallway conversations about staff's lives outside the hospital, etc.), being poked, prodded, manipulated, etc., all while racking up a huge bill to pay for all this, in their best interest of their health, of course. Healthcare providers seem to forget sometimes that, while they are surrounded by this stuff everyday, for most patients, this is an unusual and scary situation. If I'm scared, in pain, out of control of my physical condition etc., I might not be as "nice" as you'd like. I do apologize for that.

If I'm a patient, I would like nurses (and other healthcare professionals) to be "nice" to me, too. I would like to know that I don't need to put on my game face, atop my physical condition to boot, just so I can assure that my nurse will "stop by my room" if s/he should--that I will get the same level of care as the patient in the next room, regardless of my less-than-sunny disposition.

But until then, because of nurses like those you overheard, I will be sure not to ask questions or make coments that may ruin your day : "have you washed your hands?" "what is that medication you're giving me?" "I'm in pain." Hours later: "I'm still in pain." "Help me, please." "I am an active, vibrant individual who is not used to be down like this" "My name is InTheWild, not Sweetie or Honey, or Darlin'" And on and on.

I promise to do my best to be a nice, compliant, sunny, quiet blob, so the nurses can have a nicer day. I guess compassion went the way of the little white caps, eh?

Personally, I think those nurses' attitudes should be reported to their supervisor, but then I am not a "nice" person.

Unknown said...

As an RN spending 20 years in the critical care arena, 35 years in the hospital setting in total before moving on to affect healthcare in other ways....I think I can declare myself as a highly experienced and capable nurse. Reflecting on the statements made by these nurses, I say shame on them. The very patients who they avoid are the ones who need them most. I was never let down by giving a few extra minutes to those who "were not nice". Those were the patients I spent extra time with and generally was able to crack their code. These so called experienced and capable nurses need to get a grip and grow up....it's not about them....it's about the patient.
Given your Mother's Day post, Dr. Wes, I know you still believe that too.

InTheWild said...

@Barbara: Thank you for seeing the humanity in both positive AND negative patient behaviors. I hope, when I am in the hospital, you are my nurse, or at least I am surrounded by some of the others you surely influenced in your hospital career! You put the "professional" in Health Care Professional.

Carolyn Thomas said...

Hi Dr. Wes,
My guess would be that the "highly experienced and capable nurses" you overheard have not personally been in the unenviable position of actually being hospital patients themselves.

You know the kind - suffering, in pain, humiliated, helpless, dependent, fearful, confused - the ones who are NOT pleasant and happy like a "good" patient is required to be at all times in order to make the lives of hospital staff much easier.