Babysitting Other Departments
If only everyone would do what the lab tells them, life would be easier. If offices filled out requisitions properly, if patients would follow prep instructions, if registration would check with the lab before sending a patient without paperwork, if nurses would ask how before collecting specimens, if doctors would call first before collecting a fluid in a syringe and sending it to the lab with a needle attached, and if everyone would label specimens immediately after collection in front of the patient, life would be grand.
If we didn’t work in the real world, all that could be true. Sigh.
We call the offices for more information, send patients home with better instructions, and ask registration, nursing, and doctors to please comply with this or that requirement. And we reject a lot of specimens that are leaking, mislabeled, improperly stored, or clotted. You’d think people would learn.
Good customer service is all about accommodations, but one customer’s convenience is one tech’s workaround. Techs naturally want consistency for the sake of efficiency, and doing one thing for one person and another for everyone else can be annoying. In our lab the techs call this “babysitting” out of sheer frustration.
“Why can’t you just make them do it?” they’ll ask.
“They don’t work for me,” I’ll reply. “If this helps the patient, we should do it.”
For example, our post delivery order sheets have a pre-checked item for “Fetal screen (lavender top) on Rh Neg moms.” The understanding is that the laboratory will cancel the test if the cord blood is Rh Neg. But the ward secretary does not order this test until approved by the RN caring for the patient, who is obviously busy with the delivery. Given our low volume of deliveries and risk of missing RhIG administration, why not always order a fetal screen, and the lab cancels the test if not indicated?
“Babysitting!” cry the techs.
I see their point: why should the lab assume responsibility for something that should be a process in another department? But I also see the patient. The patient is too busy admiring her new baby to care.
NEXT: Changing Everything