Her uniform is wrinkled, her hat is not starched and for some reason they won’t let her in to the OR. Dr. Studley Intern stood her up last Friday, she can’t get Thursday off to attend the hemoptysis symposium and she’s had 40 patients on the ward instead of the normal 38 three days running. Dr. Ogre yelled at her for existing and her head nurse makes the Drill Instructor in “Full Metal Jacket” look like Mr. Rogers. She’s a good nurse but deep in her heart she knows she can be the next American Idol.
Maybe she’s tired of being thought of as a consumer product.
Think about it.
People are “health care consumers” who get their care from “health care providers”. Hospitals give their staff instruction in “customer service”. Those who are sick are “clients”, not patients. Hospitals are vying for business, trying to get the highest scores in “Patient Satisfaction” so some give meal service like a restaurant – on demand, like room service. Some advertise that it will take you longer to sneeze than to be seen in their ER.
Something is wrong.
I’ve taken care of patients ranging from the homeless to those who live in the most opulent areas you can imagine. I’ve been treated like a domestic servant by people with their nose so high in the air they hit it on the door on their way into the department and I smile and tolerate it in the name of “patient satisfaction”. I’ve been bossed around by folks at the other end of the spectrum whose sole purpose for coming to the ER was to get fed – and I’m the waitress – and I deal with it in the name of “patient satisfaction”.
It’s no better for the doctors. I’ve seen doctors order tests because the patients insist, not because it is necessary. Because their co-worker’s sister’s mother-in-law read in Reader’s Digest that someone in Macon, Georgia didn’t get this test back in 2003 and they died! Because the patient will perceive her care as “unsatisfactory” if she doesn’t get the test. Because they don’t want to get sued. A minimum of twelve years of hard work, study and sacrifice to become a physician and all it boils down to is being a conduit for getting tests ordered so the patient will perceive their care as “satisfactory”.
I’m tired of this. First of all, I am not a consumer product. I don’t provide “customer service”. I provide nursing care. My care is given because I am a Nurse and it is received by a Patient, not a “customer” or “client”. It is not consumed. My patients will perceive their care as “satisfactory” because it will be safe and their needs, both physical and spiritual will be met and their concerns will be addressed, and not because the hospital hires Emeril Lagasse to man the tray line or offers digital cable. My hospital, as wonderful as it is, is not Nordstrom’s. Health care is not the equivalent of choosing a pair of shoes. I’m in the best ER I’ve ever known, but sorry folks, sneeze into your hankerchief if you have to, but you WILL wait like everyone else unless you are having a true emergency, no matter what some PR firm decides to print.
Patients will be satisfied with their care because they are cared for by competent physicians and nurses who are educated to provide health care in partnership with the patient, understanding that the more information and patient education available, the better the patient is enabled to make their health care decisions.
And that results in “Patient Satisfaction”.