Saturday, May 24, 2008

Letter to Doctor Who Didn't Wash His Hands

Dear Dr.

On May 16, 2008, on the recommendation of my trusted pediatrician, I brought my son to you to look at his sore throat.

Though initially impressed by the short waiting room stay – just ten minutes, the exam room experience was not acceptable. It went like this:

You had a conversation with my son and myself, wrote your notes and very quickly grabbed your headgear and tools. You checked his ears and nose tore open a wooden stick for his mouth and examined his throat with a stick that touched your ungloved and unwashed hands.

Your actions were so quick I did not even have time to stop you other than to scream which would have upset my son terribly. All the while I assumed at some point you would have stopped to wash your hands, use gel or practice some sort of hand hygiene. It never happened.

This lack of proper hand hygiene broke all policies and standards per Joint Commission, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Institute of Healthcare Improvement, National Patient Safety Foundation and Centers for Disease Control, for infection control. If these are your office practices, the hand hygiene practices in your surgical and hospital settings may be equally at-risk.

There are over 90,000 deaths a year from hospital acquired infections. Hand washing is the simplest rule to infection control. Health care professionals must be setting examples and practice basic hand hygiene to promote the reduction of spread of infection.

This happened in your office of 875 Old Country Rd, Plainview, the same building that only months earlier there was a protest and press about Dr. Harvey Finkelstein’s unsafe infection control practices gaining national public attention. As a mom, and a patient safety advocate educating patients and families on their rights for safe, quality and competent care, I am disappointed at myself for not speaking up sooner. Even more so I am deeply troubled that you would treat my child with such disrespect and unsanitary practices.

If this was not a standard patient interaction for you can you help me understand how it could have happened at all? May I share with you much of the information I have as a patient safety advocate for the past twelve years?

This experience will be a great springboard to share with others the importance of proper hand awareness in my patient safety education workshops. I just hope this does not cause a new concern in my son’s health care, or with others you or he may come in contact with.


Ilene Corina,

How Do I Say Thank You?

I have said before that this is lonely work. I'm never sure how many people are helped or if this work is appreciated although I do know that we are saving lives just by the e-mails and letters I receive.

I have known Tony Smith from SAS Real Estate for many years, even before the death of my son which propelled me into patient safety work. First, I knew Tony as a local businessman while I worked at the post office. Then, when I left, we stayed in touch and he became a big supporter and friend of PULSE. It means a lot when people get behind our work since our work is about people.

What a surprise when I looked at the back cover of our local community newspaper and Tony from SAS took out a full page ad about our upcoming Family Centered Patient Advocacy Training Workshop. How do you thank someone who puts their reputation on the line for you? Tony has a great business and has been around a long time. He surely doesn't need my push for him to sell homes. But people need to know what it means for a company to stand behind a groups struggling to do the right thing, for the right reasons and then have a power house give a push.

Thank you Tony!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Rate Success of Patient Safety

Am I successful? Is PULSE of NY successful? Are we, as a community based patient safety organization successful? I was recently asked to think about this.

I think it depends on how we describe success. We can’t really measure our success because there are no standards on what we would measure it. Perhaps, I can think that PULSE is successful in this way:

We have probably saved lives. That is a good thing.
We are recognized by our colleagues as doing good work.

We are recognized by national leaders in patient safety as doing good work.

There is a wonderful group of people who support us either in their time, knowledge, expertise or financially.

I am busy almost every minute of every day either fulfilling our mission or finding ways to fulfill our mission. We stay on topic.
Our programs are up and running and in the communities.

These are all good things but still, the corporate world wants measurement. Something we may never do. We may never be able to rate our success. We may never have more than a few months money to help us survive. We may never even know how many lives we have saved.

So, if I am to “measure” success, I would prefer to hear it from you, my readers or feel it in my heart.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Health Literacy

I just returned from a conference in New York City sponsored by AIG and the National Patient Safety Foundation. The topic was on health literacy. This topic of health literacy is is near and dear to my heart so I was thrilled to be able to attend. As someone who spends time with people who work in healthcare it is not uncommon to wonder what the discussion is going on when the "jargon" being used is often in terms I can't follow and don't understand. Never being one too proud to say "what are you talking about" I found it refreshing to learn that health literacy has moved away from the written word and has moved towards communication skills too.

For many, it's not about not being able to read, but it's about not being able to understand what is being said. This happens every day, in every profession. It only makes sense that literacy focuses on the whole manner of communication.

The program was wonderful and left the attendees the tools to make comprehension work for the patient. It wasn't just a lecture but the tools were described to be used.

Most of this addresses the doctor patient relationship but in this case, as in many of these conferences, there wasn't a single doctor in the audience. Hopefully they are getting this education elsewhere...............or are they?