I've been thinking back to a couple of my patient experiences that weren't so great. I don't often share personal information on my blog, but am probably also a bit overdue, so here goes. Keep in mind I've worked in healthcare, or worked toward it (while at the LA State Senate), my entire career and I'm an "educated" healthcare consumer. Health literacy is not a problem for me.
First, healthcare professionals and anyone working in patient care environments need to listen to their patients. Sometimes they know what they are talking about and can alert you to an impending risk/problem. Don't automatically assume they are over reacting and don't blindly put faith into technology/equipment.
Several years ago I arrived at the hospital to be induced for my second child. He was late and it was really hard for me to breath and move around. I'm short. On the way, I felt like labor was starting and on arriving at the hospital I immediately let the admissions and nursing staff know that I believed my labor had started and I wanted an epidural. It was a busy early morning and I was escorted to an "overflow" room at the end of the hall and a monitor strapped on my really large belly. After about an hour and not much attention from the nursing staff, I started to use the call button to let the nurses know the contractions were getting closer and the pain much greater -- and asked for my epidural. I informed them that the monitor kept slipping around. I got a cursory response, but not much attention.
At some point during the morning, one of the nurses told me "honey, your going to be here a while" and they were dismissive to my husband -- even when he explained that we didn't think they were seeing on the monitor what I was felling. Later, I sent my husband out to the nursing station to bring someone back. When no one showed, I demanded that he get back there and get someone NOW!!!!!
Well, my doctor finally arrived, I told her about the contractions and the pain and she examined me and found that I was about to deliver. She started calling out orders and didn't wait for the nurses, but instead escorted me immediately down the hall to delivery. Evidently, the old monitor used in the "overflow" room wasn't on right or working and the nurses had no idea I was in labor or how much it had progressed.
Unfortunately, for me it was too late for my epidural and I delivered a beautiful 10 lb 2 oz baby with a really big head. When I received my patient satisfaction questionnaire, I was eager to complete it and share my expereince with the hospital, and the CEO... whom I had met previously. I even called the quality assurance department to report my concerns. This was a "save" due to the fact that my physician arrived on time that morning to make her rounds and get ready for the day. I don't know if anything was ever done with my concern or feedback.
I realize that this patient experience doesn't compare to some of the horrific stories I've heard, that have lead to truly unfortunate and poor outcomes. But, the story could have easily gone bad with alignment of just a couple more misses. Healthcare professionals don't know which way it will go and that is why it is important to listen to your patients (or their spouse/family member) and try to confirm what they are reporting.