Thursday, September 10, 2009

There are 2 very important roles to being a useful and productive patient (safety) advocate. One is being objective and one is being a good communicator.

Being objective means that you allow someone to make their own decisions. Words like “you have to” or “you need to” does not make for an objective participant. Words to get the same results can be “have you thought of….” By telling someone what they “have” to do takes the power away from them. Telling someone what to do can also cause push back from the listener. The first thing I think of is “no, I don’t have to”.

As an advocate, we want the patient (or even the patient’s family) in control. We want them to make decisions but have all available resources.

As a good communicator, it may mean not talking and just listening for long periods of time. No one cares about your broken foot or gall bladder operation. It’s not about you. Practice not talking for a while. Don’t ask questions or change the subject. Just listen. Search for the feelings of the patient. Are they scared, confused or angry? Acknowledge these feelings and don’t run away from them.

Allowing patient’s to share their feelings and not bury them can help them move on and concentrate on other issues. Storing their feelings of anger for being injured, or scared about their recent diagnosis blocks them from hearing important information or from recognizing other things around them that they need to know.

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