:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Monday, May 08, 2006  

Insider Igorance

this is a message to all healthcare staff, nurses, doctors, administrators and students.

a patient's mom fell and broke her arm about six weeks ago. after spending nearly 16 hours in the ER, she got good care, was splinted and sent home to heal. after a month, she had a follow-up appointment where it was determined that she was healing poorly, technically called a "mal-union." she was scheduled for a pre-op surgical appointment last week. her adult son accompanied her because she doesn't speak English and has trouble advocating for herself in big systems. he reports that he was told that he was not aloud to accompany her into the visit and had to wait outside. he is a humble man and accepted that at face value without challenging his right to participate. the surgery was discussed, a date was chosen, the patient was sent home and the patient didn't understand a thing.

if possible, i'd like for her to have local instead of general anesthesia to reduce surgical complications and recovery time. she has no idea what kind of anesthesia they are going to use. her son had been prepped by me to ask that question but he wasn't aloud in.

we are getting closer to the message for healthcare workers.

i called this week to try to track down the surgeon. i made it to the right clinic and spoke with a receptionist. i shared my concerns and told her about how the patient's son wasn't aloud to participate in the visit. she became defensive and then flatly denied that the patient's son wasn't aloud to participate, stating that it wasn't policy to exclude family members from visits, and finally, that it didn't really matter because they have interpretation services available so the patient should have been fine on her own.

we will never improve our systems, our quality of care, our ability to care for people who are more vulnerable, if we maintain a defensive, ignorant posture when patients and families share their stories of poor treatment or mis-treatment.

noone is perfect, systems are far from perfect. this isn't a tirade to try to make everything perfect. it's a call to those reading to please stay humble, listen and believe your patients, take what they say with a grain of salt of course, but don't discard the concerns raised because they don't fit nicely into what is supposed to be happening per stated policy.


posted by andru | 5/08/2006 01:32:00 PM | |


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