It is Valentines’s Day, Chinese New Year, and the beginning of a new decade so there is much to celebrate. Last year was more difficult as those I love spent too much time in hospitals. As I was with them it was an opportunity to watch up close and experience the many facets of our health care system. I found that I had to find the place in myself where I could be calm when all I wanted to do was scream, “Do you hear what the patient is saying?”
It became very clear that the clinical nuances of the individual patient seem to get lost when health care providers focus on their clinical guidelines and not on the specifics of the person in front of them. I watched as very caring and smart providers were rushed and wanted to take the path that was most familiar to them.
Fortunately, on my IPhone I have Epocrates™ and I used it to show how the patient may have a negative response to the medicine they were going to give him. I made the health care provider take extra time and double check. They took the time and checked their system and the medicine was not given.
What would have happened if I had not been there? “Medical Error” may have had another person to claim. Our systems can be brilliant but they can also blunder. The difference between one and the other is usually the act of one human being.
We need health insurance reform for certain. We also need to change the way our health system functions. That would be something we could all celebrate.