Saturday, April 3, 2021

So, You Think You are Helpful

YOU MAY NOT BE AS GOOD AS HIS AS YOU THINK YOU ARE

Now that there is a COVID-related policy in many hospitals and nursing homes that families can’t be with their loved ones, I’m going to touch on a topic that may make many people angry – but I expect that, deep down inside, many of you will agree.  Maybe, just maybe, you aren’t the best person to support a loved one in the hospital.

It is often assumed by family members that they need to be there to support their sick loved one who is hospitalized. That’s not always the case. I have been with people who are hospitalized and have been asked to keep a husband or wife away. They may be bossy, loud and feel it is their job to demand everything their family member wants or needs without thinking of the nurse’s position or the other patients.

You may just imagine hearing a father raising his voice to a nurse: “I said, my daughter needs her pain medication!”  There is no reason to think a nurse doesn’t want to get a patient pain medication. Yelling at a nurse usually doesn’t help.

A chatty family member or friend who thinks a patient wants to be entertained instead of sleeping can often not only aggravate the patient, but also roommates who need to rest. If you are visiting the patient, have you discussed how you might be helpful?  When the patient says “I want to ask the doctor or nurses about………….” grab a notebook and start writing these questions, thoughts and ideas so when the doctor comes in, you have the questions, and any new symptoms, ready. Will a visiting family member be polite and check medications,
answer questions to the nurse if you’re resting? Will they repeat back instructions, get information in writing, and work on the discharge early in the care plan? Will they ask who each person entering the room is, and why they are there? Will they make sure staff check a patient’s ID and have the correct patient?  Will they wipe down doorknobs and the TV remote and bed rail after someone touches them? You may be reading in other blog posts or articles that the patient should be doing this, but that’s not always the case and they may feel that being their own advocate can be confrontational. It can be, and that goes for the family too. Practicing to be a caregiver, support person or advocate is important to be good at what you do.  There is more to this than just being there.

I have spent thousands of hours with patients and their family members in the hospital which is why I believe that training that the Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy provides is crucial to anyone who will be a “guest” of a patient.  When you hear someone say that they got what their loved one needed because they are a great advocate and yelled at everyone until they were heard, think again.

 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

She Had No Intention to Listen

 STOP YELLING AT ME

A woman on the phone asked if the class that was being offered would help her handle the terrible treatment her husband received at the hospital recently.  I wasn’t sure how to respond so I asked her what she is looking for the class to address.  The Family Centered Patient Advocacy classes we are offering at Pulse Centerfor Patient Safety on three Thursday evenings in March include hospital policies and procedures, communication skills, understanding and avoiding bias (conscious or unconscious) and other information to help a family member or friend become an advocate for a patient and even help someone decide if being an independent patient advocate is for them as a possible career.

It seems her husband, who was very ill, also had disabilities that made it difficult for him to care for himself.  She did not want to leave him at the hospital without her but she was not permitted to stay at the hospital with him because of COVID-19.   Her voice was raised, she was obviously angry, she used words that were not helpful in our conversation and every once in a while, she would take a breath and ask, “so will these classes help?”  Not waiting for an answer, she would continue in a rage about how terrible this hospital staff treated her.

I was able to get out the question “have you thought about talking to someone at the hospital?”  That started a whole new blast of anger. 

I could start practicing my empathy and my active listening skills but truthfully, I didnt see this conversation continuing.  So, I just listened and when she asked for the fourth or fifth time “so will these classes help”?  I just responded “no, I don’t think so, best of luck” and that was the end of our conversation.

If you want to join us, we would love to have you, but we won’t be solving past problems and communication plays a big role in Family Centered Patient Advocacy.  Communication such as active listening, empathy is a skill that people must want to learn and practice.  Some people want to play an instrument but don’t do it well and may never make beautiful music. They may think they are a musician but others cringe when they hear the sound.  Some people may want to advocate and communicate, but they may never make it without practice.  If you want to learn and practice, I’m happy to help – after the program, we can practice together.  Give me a call and register here:

FCPA Class - Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy

Monday, December 7, 2020

The Missing Link

 

We Found the Missing Link

By Ilene Corina, BCPA, President, Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy
When my world became about patient safety thirty years ago, it wasn’t only because of my personal experience. It became important because, by talking to others, I heard of many other stories where medical care went wrong or mistakes were made, and though the patients or their families saw it coming, they did not feel empowered enough to say something. Many of these people who lost loved ones or experienced harm worked in healthcare.

Sure, we are in a pandemic now and that is the health emergency we all face. Many in society, myself included, are fearful for our own health and that of our loved ones. No one wants to hear that their beloved family member has Covid. But are you prepared if you or your family were to become patients?

As I began attending medical — primarily patient safety — conferences over twenty years ago (my first was in 1999), I learned how errors happen from the people who were involved with causing them and studying them. I grew passionate about bringing that information back to the public, but it has been futile. Most people — understandably, perhaps — avoid planning for the probability they might ever be a sick or injured patient. But if they wait until its too late, they are not in a physical or emotional state to help themselves.

I have spent many years sitting at patients’ bedsides, so I have seen what can happen. Going on doctor visits, helping people prepare for surgery, sitting with people in wheelchairs, people with limited English, people who are homeless and people who are transgender, I have seen how they were treated and how care can go wrong.

Years ago, I believed that if the world became filled with patient advocates, that would be the missing piece, the link between the sick, injured or aging society and the complex, overworked, error-riddled healthcare system.

The training we have offered the community over the years has helped people with no medical background prepare to help a loved one through the healthcare system or, in many cases, to become professional patient advocates.

Maybe my old dream will become a reality: more advocates are coming and many are here already. Patient advocates can focus on many areas, such as legal, financial, medical and care management. There are the social workers, medical, support, self-trained, and Board Certified. Some specialize in rare diseases, some in geriatrics, and some in pediatrics. You can find them through associations that support patient advocates. Here are a few, and I hope you will join us on December 14th to hear from the founder of Greater National Advocates.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Payoff For Wrongful Death, Will That Make it Better? Aftermath Explains It

 


I just watched Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Aftermath.  The movie is about a man who loses his family in a terrible accident that killed 271 passengers on two planes.  I’m not giving away anything that isn’t in the trailer.  A person is the cause of the accident.  A terrible mistake.  The devastated father and husband (Schwarzenegger) seeks an apology and is offered payment instead.  At some point he is offered money in exchange for a lawsuit.  The movie is based on his search for an apology.  

There are similarities in this movie to what families go through following the deaths of loved ones due to the medical care they receive.  A terrible accident because of someone’s error, a misjudgment or a system breakdown that causes injury or death is often responded to first with silence, an offer of payment and signing an order to not disclose the amount of the payment and sometimes to never speak about the incident.

Yet, many people say they want to be sure that the incident will never happen again or, no other family has to suffer as they did.  I’m not sure how that will happen when the family is paid off but of course, the attorneys need to be paid and that’s how they get paid, out of the settlement.

If you watch Aftermath, and you have experienced the loss of a family member because of the medical care they received, consider leaving a message on the similarities if you see it.  And can anyone learn from this comparison?

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Bias and Discrimination - My View

Racism, Bias and Discrimination

I just listened to a news program during which a Black man was interviewed saying that he is sick of the rioting.  He believes there should be protests but violence is not appropriate.  He understood the anger because he too has been stopped and profiled numerous times by police.  He knew he did nothing wrong but still he was scared of what might happen to him.

The next segment of the show was about the large numbers of Black and Hispanic people dying from Covid-19.  Most of the news segments related to the underlying health problems the black community may have which are worse now with Covid-19.

I remember hearing months ago, when the pandemic was at its worst, that doctors needed to make the painful decision: who would get medical care because they could be saved and who would not receive care because they could not be helped.  Now I wonder: could some doctors also be making that choice because of the same thought process a white police officer might have when engaging a black man?

Isn’t it possible that our trusted healthcare professionals are also experiencing bias when it comes to seeing a patient who doesn’t look like them or their family?

I don’t know the answers but I do hope it is a way for us to recognize how we feel when we see someone who looks different from us, and in any aspect of our daily lives to recognize that this person is important.  Whether it’s a police officer or a doctor or anyone else who works with the public or lives in this society, we must recognize there may be underlying feelings and emotions that need to be examined

That’s all.

This short video might help explain why this happens



Understanding unconscious bias