Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In the Patient's Interest


I spent the entire day in meetings today. One would think that is a boring or unproductive way for a physician to spend time, however these meetings made me proud to be a doctor and proud of my colleagues in medicine.

The morning was spent with nurses, respiratory therapists and quality experts who came together to celebrate success with patient safety and quality initiatives that have saved at least 151 patient lives. These caregivers from a number of different hospitals, have worked together for 3 years on on reducing deep venous thrombosis, ventilator acquired pneumonia, skin ulcers and sepsis.

Medicine is a team sport and it is only when the team is humming and everyone is working together that patients can have good outcomes. Hospital errors, medication errors, poor communication between doctors and nurses are prevented by adherence to protocols that everyone follows. It takes laser focus, measuring outcomes and a great deal of hard work to ensure everyone is pulling together in a hospital. The fact that these bedside nurses take the time to work on error reduction and patient safety is really amazing. Have you seen how hard nurses work? My hat is off to these dedicated care-givers.

Tonight I met with physician leaders who are spending their precious "after work" time to discuss how to improve patient care in their communities. We discussed how to seamlessly transfer patients from one hospital to another and how to make sure physicians get continuing medical education to keep their skills on the cutting edge.

We talked about the decline in primary care physicians in most communities and how to help them survive in hostile practice environments when it seems none of the "health care reform" ideas will address the shortage.

While health care reform is being discussed in Washington, doctors and nurses are quietly going about their business providing the best health care we can. I am proud to be associated with these care-givers who are spending enormous amounts of time and energy to improve the system and make the patient the first concern.

9 comments:

KM said...

This is a wonderful post I was very glad to read, especially of the dedicated interest with this topic and in communication and working as a team.

Is there a way for a patient or family member, or friend advocate of a patient to give some suggestions and input from a negative out come that has been observed for a group or team to work on to improve other kinds of outcomes for future patients in a similar situation?

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Anonymous said...

It is great to see the medical community working for the betterment of patient care. Thanks for this.

Linda Leighton said...

Thanks for this encouraging blog. Since there is so much that is negative right now, this is most refreshing! I admire your team approach and laud you for it.

Martine said...

How encouraging! Nice to hear that the medical community really wants to improve health care and prevent medical errors. We hear negative news in the press and it's great to hear some positive news about the medical professionals we rely on.

Raymond Bouchayer said...

I wish that our Politicians had the same dedication that Doctors, Nurses, Therapy"s have ,

The ugly habit of "greed" continues and a lot of ignorant people cannot see the difference between getting care or giving care ... and that is what we have and are doing now to the Insurance and Pharma Companies . If its on the stock market , your well being has nothing to do with the bottom line.If dying brings in a profit...you die

Heather Lin said...

I enjoyed reading your post. It certainly gives more meaning to what I do as a support.

jodigirl1000 said...

I wish that my experiences confirmed the "team" effort. As a cancer patient and caregiver for dad with Stage 4 cancer, I do not see a team effort at all. I routinely encounter hospitalists that flatly refuse to communicate, cooperate or coordinate patient safety or continuity of care. Hospitalists have told me that to communicate with the current treating clinic physician (for the same university hospital system) would "muddy the waters."

I now you did a guest post for Kevin MD. What we need is a post about "handling the difficult physician"!!

I wish that there was national standardization for the Hospitalist Program Model. The concept is admirable and does suggest a team approach for the benefit of the patient. But the execution of the Program has been a danger in my neck of the woods. Patients have died had major university hospitals because of the failure of hospitalists to communicate with treating PCP.

Toni Brayer MD said...

jodigirl1000: I am sorry about your experience and I agree that coordination and communication are the most needed things for hospitalized patients. Unfortunately, medicine in the past was performed in silos. By bringing physicians and nurses together in teams and working together on protocols and communication strategies, I hope we can finally break through some dysfunctions that have been accepted for years.

It is NOT ok to continue.