Remember the Patients
Being a patient can be an ordeal, I recently learned. But a patient perspective is crucial in adjusting our customer service to
promote healing for patients and families. We can intellectualize and theorize in all the meetings and training seminars we want,
but there is no substitute for seeing healthcare from “the other side.” And we may find that what we thought was important to a
patient really isn’t and vice versa.
Here are a few suggestions (see if you agree):
- Remember that patients are often helpless, vulnerable, and suffering a loss of control. This not only places you in an
involuntary position of trust but adds a responsibility to be sensitive to how patients perceive their plights. I experienced this
to a small degree. It is remarkable how little it takes to feel incapacitated and in the control of another. Pain does it, for
- Remember to be quiet. Hospitals are noisier than we think. This can be alleviated by being sensitive to how a patient reacts
to noise. In my case, for example, it would have been nice if a healthcare worker had said, “I’ll try to be as quiet as possible so
I don’t disturb you more than necessary,” instead of zooming and crashing about. “Is there anything I can do to make it more quiet
in here?” is another approach.
- Remember that patients lose track of time. A daily routine grounds many of us, and without it time melts away. A phlebotomist
can explain to a patient what time it is and why she is collecting a sample. I would have liked just having nurses and other people
tell me the time (e.g. “It’s ten P.M., can I get you anything?”); drawn curtains make it difficult to distinguish night from day.
Remember to smile, too. I was surprised at how few people smiled and was always comforted when they did. A sincere smile has an
amazing effect on patients and communicates time and interest spent on their behalf. Not smiling simply says, “I’m busy.”
Something to think about when we remember the patient.
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