Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Residents and Doctors Need to Know When Talking to Parents of Young Patients

      When my Baby #2 was five days old we had to take him to the hospital for jaundice.  Due to some major miscommunication on the part of the hospital, we arrived at the hospital stressed out from waiting and waiting for hours to have him admitted.  The hospital was in turn waiting for us to bring him in.  With new born jaundice the higher the jaundice level the scary the case can become- there is even the threat of brain damage if the number gets too high.  Just imagine my level of anxiety after all of the waiting to have a resident yell at me because it took so long for me to bring my son in.  This was the first of many disturbing interactions with residents at this particular hospital.  (The poor nurses there have to apologize constantly for the way their residents act- horrible doctor-god complex culture at this particular hospital.  The hospital's reputation is so bad we refused to have either child delivered there but had no choice when told of the jaundice issue.)

       So after witnessing and being subject to a number of bad interactions, and having a sister in med school I thought I would create a list of things I think doctors and residents should know and keep in mind, when interacting with parents.  I mention the little sister because she is an amazing person who will make a phenomenal doctor one day.  She is most definitely focused on the patient and the patient's needs.  Hell, I'd have her deliver my next baby if she can and, the big if, if I get a baby #3!  Smile, hubby, if you ever read this!  My sister and her close friends are often horrified by what they encounter in the course of their "education."  I also have a dear friend that is in his final years of residency and I'm not trying to knock him either.  I know that there are tons of amazing doctors and residents out there.  These are just some things that are important for some doctors who lack bedside manner to think about.  Oh and please help me think of additional things to add to the list.  Thanks.

  • Introduce yourself- we don't know who you are or why you are asking or telling us super important things.  I'd like to know your name at least before you start picking or probing me or a loved one, just saying.
  • If you are talking about our child, acknowledge the child- use his name, speak to him too.  We need to know that you realize this is a precious person and not just a disease, injury, case, problem, etc.
  • IT ISN'T ABOUT YOU.  (Do I have to explain this one?  It is about the PATIENT.  The patient better be your priority. PERIOD.)  I have eight stories to illustrate this topic, let me know if you want to hear them.  Oh and yes, they all came from our 26 hour stay in the hospital for jaundice.  God, please help parents that have children with major illnesses and huge complications.  Not only do they need strength to endure the unthinkable, they have to deal with doctor egos.  Not fair.
  • We want good information, clear instructions, time frames or plans, even if they are subject to change.  So much of the time in hospital is spent waiting and wondering what the hell is going to happen next.  If doctors just took the time to give us a brief overview we wouldn't worry so much.  It doesn't have to be detailed or too specific, but something is better than just the wait.  I remember being admitted for complications with 2 and both my husband and I were trying to eavesdrop on nurses to figure out what was going to happen next.  All someone had to do was give us a little tiny bit of information.
  • Give us time to write things down, we are stressed and sleep deprived, we aren't going to remember what you just said because we are again stressed and sleep deprived!
  • Apologize if you screw up.  It means so much.  We even had a resident ask a nurse to apologize for him.  It would have meant so much more if he would have just man'ed up and did it himself.
  • If the patient explains a symptom, issue or problem- acknowledge that it is real and scary for said patient, then tell us it is common, no big deal, happens all of the tome, not significant etc.  You may have encountered 808 patients with the same symptoms but this is obviously our first go round with said problem.  Just acknowledging that we are freaked out will make a huge difference.
Pin It Now!

No comments:

Post a Comment