Saturday, November 7, 2015

Patient Safety: An Endless Journey, sponsored by King Faisal Specialist Hospital &Research Centre, Saudi Arabia

My Trip to Saudi Arabia

It was a long, but uneventful trip traveling over 6,000 miles each way to Saudi Arabia.  I was invited to speak at the first International Quality & Patient Safety
Conference held in Jeddah.  Titled   Patient Safety: An Endless Journey which was sponsored by King Faisal Specialist Hospital &Research Centre.  The planning for this trip took months.

The planned attendance was about 350 but the crowds at registration on the first morning meant that they were unprepared for the last minute request for entry.  This was a medical community hungry for knowledge and information about keeping patients safe. 

The speakers, over 30 in all were from the US as well as the Middle East.  Topics included the role of the pharmacist, medical student education, employee engagement and the accreditation process.  My role was to include the patient and family in patient safety.

I was not only there to educate, but felt I learned a tremendous amount.  After my presentation I was flocked by women who wanted to know more and were willing to share with me their stories and their culture.  I was able to learn what are some of the things we, in America might take for granted and not understand.

I was sure to explain to my hosts that some of my content might not be what they, in their culture support or believe.  I was not there to give my opinion or try to change theirs.  But the work we do at PULSE with young, unmarried mothers, or the transgender community are ways to learn about communication and honesty.  Were their patients afraid to disclose information, they may not get accurate information from their patients.  

I had another chance to share why I do patient safety work and share my journey.  This seemed to touch the women.  One woman stood up after my presentation and said “This was the best presentation I have EVER heard in my life”.  Her, and a group of women came over after and asked me to pose for photos.  (Far from my area of comfort) They took out their cameras and started doing “selfies” with me.

In this culture, it is expected that children will take care of their elderly family.  They won’t be put into nursing homes.  This opens an important role in advocacy and communication.  Men must sign the consent for a wife to have a hysterectomy a c-section or any fertility treatment.  It is also not unusual for family to receive medical diagnosis before the patient does so they can break the news to their loved one.  Although this was just some of what was shared with me, I understand that there is clarity needed in these examples.  It’s not all that simple. 

In the American “culture” men can’t have 4 wives and women can drive for themselves and wear what they want.  In the Saudi culture woman can get married young and family arranges the marriage.  People may not agree with the way others live but that is an important part of respecting each other.  This is important in health care and treating patients.  It’s another step in the conversation.  I feel honored to have been a part of this first step and introducing the work of PULSE to this new community.