Thursday, November 1, 2007

Is Flying Like Surgery?

I used to hate to fly. I don’t hate it as much any more. I don’t fly that much. Maybe much more than when I worked in the post office, but much less than some of my colleagues in patient safety.

I hated flying because of the lack of control, frustration of being locked in a seat for many hours and just missing being with my family. I don’t “hate” it as much for the same reason. I looked at the clouds this morning on my early morning walk and said aloud “I’ll be there soon”, locked in a seat, leaving troubles behind – but still missing my family. The last time I flew, I realized there is nothing I can do to protect myself. I simply had to trust the airline industry, pilot and everyone else who worked together to keep me, and the other passengers safe. It helped me to think of leaving all my frustrations behind and I was “lifted” above the world of work, frustration and any stressful thoughts.

It’s almost like that with surgery. We are “locked” in our seat. My dad is going for surgery next week. I can’t stand it. He is my hero, my rock. He knows about patient safety, maybe too much and he did his homework. He chose the doctor he liked best for a whole lot of reasons. My dad has to use the hospital his doctor uses. Going for surgery is almost like getting on a plane. It is limiting what you can do to stay safe.

I don’t want my dad to be thinking about telling the staff to wash their hands or to plan on asking them to not kill him with someone else’s medication. He should not have to worry about making sure people know who he is and have the correct procedure. I will be there to do my best. But, now I’m nervous because even some of the best doctors have watched horrible things happen to their family and felt powerless to avoid it.

What scares me about this “partnership”, the term used so freely in healthcare to make patients think they have a role in their safe care, is that this hospital has never shown any interest in partnerships – at least to me, a community member who travels around the country talking about the patients role in patient safety and does community education in this hospitals community.

I have reached out many times to South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside LI but have never received a response, even a generic letter from the staff or CEO who I have contacted to learn about their role in patient safety. Although like many Long Island hospitals, I’m sure they do care about patient safety, especially after the recent news about a dead baby being found in their laundry, but I just can’t seem to find how they include the patient in patient safety. Maybe they hand the patient a Joint Commission Speak Up Brochure in their admissions packet.

When putting the words patient safety into their search engine, I get a picture and bio of the CEO. I was so shocked that I asked others to try in case my computer wasn’t working. Nothing – or at least nothing that I could find about this hospital working with their patients for safe, quality care.

So, I guess I will be on the plane later today and hope for the best, and I will be with my dad for surgery next week at South Nassau Communities Hospital and hope for the best, but if for any reason we are not satisfied…………………….

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