Sunday, June 17, 2012

Put Ice ON it

I Don't Get It
So I get my shot and I ask the doctor about any side effects.  She tells me it may swell and get red but ice and Motrin will help.  It is a bit uncomfortable so I begin sucking on ice cubes and tape a Motrin pill to the area that has swelled.  Just kidding!!!!!
But it’s really not a joke.  Many, many patients don’t get the doctor’s information correctly.  The way this was explained to me may have been confusing to someone who doesn’t know what to do with their directions, can’t read well or speak another language.  In all of our lives we often assume people know what we know.  That comes from using words that aren’t used by everyone or not encouraging someone to reflect back instructions or information.
As a patients advocate we need to be sure we are hearing exactly what the doctor or nurse is telling the patient to do.  Think of ways the information can be jumbled and assume the patient isn’t hearing it because it can get jumbled or they are distracted. 
If I were with an advocate when my doctor gave me instructions to just use ice and Motrin for pain, what are some of the things you could have said to help?
Doctor, can you explain exactly how much ice and how much Motrin?  Can you explain further what to do with the ice and Motrin?
Doctor, how long should we use ice and Motrin or is there another medication we can use?
Ask the patient to explain what she will do.  “Ilene, what will you do with the ice and Motrin?” The response should be in front of the doctor so when I say I will suck on the ice, the doctor knows additional explanation is needed.
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One and Only

Safe Injections

I went to get a vaccination today and as the woman came into the room with a needle, wrapped in cellophane and a vial in her other hand,  I asked her, will you be reusing a syringe or the vial?
“This?” she asked as she held up a small glass container that looked about the size of a thimble.  “There is only one dose in here”.  She told me that some medications have more than one dose but in this case,  it is a single dose and then will be thrown out.  She asked me why I was asking.
Disposable Needle and Syringe
 “I just attended a program on safe injection and learned about one needle and one syringe.”  I told her I was curious if she ever heard of that.  She hadn’t, but showed me the whole needle and syringe gets thrown out after it’s used. She displayed the packaging  that she just opened to retrieve a new, unused needle and syringe.   I was grateful for this real time discussion on safe injections.  I could now say I practice what I preach.
I asked if she knew of others who may reuse the syringe or is it pretty standard to use disposables.  She said she didn’t know what others do but was confident that in this doctor's practice only disposable needles and syringes are used.  I felt reassured and just before she walked out the door she said “not only is it unsafe, but to not throw them away is gross”. And she was gone.  I barely felt her giving me the shot.
To learn more about the Safe Injection Campaign, read about it here:  One and Only