Tell the Truth
The flip side of liars at work is, of course, telling the truth. We’re a culture so obsessed with liars -- at least until November 6th! -- that it’s worthwhile to simplify the issue.
Lying ranges from a wee fib about someone’s new doo to sink testing in blood bank, but there is only one truth, in deed as well as thought. In the laboratory, this means not just following proper policies and procedures, but always acting in the best interests of the patient.
Example: You discover a cerebrospinal fluid calculation error that caused a white blood cell count to be reported incorrectly. You tell your lab manager, who promises to call the pediatrician with the results. You agree, since it’s your first day on the job. By the end of the shift you ask about it, and she admits she hasn’t had time to deal with it. What should you do?
Example: You discover point of care results are incorrectly transcribed by nurses on the floor. Most of the time the differences are small, but the errors are consistent and sometimes patient care is changed as a result. You tell the nursing manager in your chain of command, who scoffs at the idea her nurses are making errors. What should you do?
In a culture of liars, people duck, bob, and weave their way through problems like these with statements like, “He’s difficult to approach” or “It isn’t a significant difference.” This can happen so often without accountability that it becomes a knee-jerk response. Negotiating truth becomes how things are done. Telling the truth should never put you at risk, but in a culture of liars it always does.
Above, it means immediately telephoning the physicians responsible for making care decisions. Your manager says, “Did you call the physician? Good!” and the nurse manager says, “Does the hospitalist know? Let’s tell the nurses, too.”
The truth simplifies everything and more. As Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
NEXT: The Shock of the New