Friday, June 25, 2010

Leadership & Body Language

Leadership Choices

I met with a physician administrator at a hospital recently. I know him primarily through my work in patient safety. I have learned over the years it becomes easy to notice physicians or administrators who are serious about patient safety and /or patient centered care.

The first thing he did was pull his chair away from his desk. The desk often acts as a barrier. He wanted to show me that there were no barriers and that we were “equal” when I came into his office. I have always admired this man for who he is, and now I was able to admire him for what he does.

He never looked at his watch. This almost became distracting to me as I started to wonder how long I was there and why he never looked at his watch. I started to wonder if there was a hidden clock behind my head and later learned there wasn’t. When I felt the meeting was over and left, I learned it was just about an hour. I would have never known that it was time to leave from him.

Finally, when his phone rang, he never flinched. He never looked at it ringing, never made a move to answer it. I was the only thing that mattered.

These behaviors are not instincts we are born with. When a phone rings it is an automatic move to answer it. These are learned traits that make someone special and serious about his or her work in patient centered care. It makes me realize that, as guests in the corporate world whether hospitals, doctors offices or another, we should expect nothing less .

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Patient Advocacy Training

As I prepare to spend a week at an out of state hospital with a friend who is going for surgery, I reflect on all I have learned about patient safety and what I can do to be sure she is safe and receiving the best quality of care. Sadly, I recognize that her fate is ultimately in the hands of the professionals who will be treating her.

There are many things I can do for her comfort, the things I teach patient’s families to do. As a professional, things I would rarely do, as a friend, things I look forward to doing.

Making sure the patient is comfortable but also, spending the time to disinfect anything that is touched. The door knobs, TV remote and side rails to the bed. These things may be cleaned before a new patient comes in but also need to be done often while the patient is there. Especially, when there is surgery and wound care. Being sure the patient understands treatment, after care has all her questions answered. I will be keeping lists, lots of lists. She will only have to think about getting well.

Each time I do this it is a learning experience. There is no school for teaching patient advocacy as much as there is for living it. When I teach it next time, I will be using experiences I have from this trip, I’m sure. Positives and negatives that will become part of my next lesson.

I am deeply honored to be part of this experience. I am a lucky person.