Everyone has the right to quality service when they seek healthcare from a facility. Everyone regardless of background, race, sexual orientation, ability to pay, or type of illness. This is your right as a patient, and I can bet your local hospital staff take that pretty seriously. A large part of their job is to ensure your satisfaction. It’s why we have patient satisfaction surveys and why they’re given such importance, despite what my personal opinion may be on them. Point being, no one wants you to be happier than the healthcare team caring for you, but let’s all just be blatantly honest. That’s not always gonna happen. It can’t.
Here’s what you might be missing when you visit your local Emergency Department, or even find yourself an inpatient at a local facility.
It’s a hospital. By definition, a hospital is an institution providing medical and surgical treatment and nursing care for sick or injured people.
It’s not a hotel, a restaurant, or a spa day. So although the hospital does feed you, bath you, and give you a place to lay your head, those are not its only purposes. As such, each patient doesn’t have their own personal assistant. The aides, nursing staff, and providers caring for any single patient are also responsible for the care of many others. This ratio will require the healthcare worker to use a little something we call common sense and even critical thinking in my particular area. We will use a process called triage to determine whose needs must be met first. Since we are finite and cannot be in more than one place at a time, much to the disappointment of those we care for, we must give certain patients priority over others.
This means waiting.
It can mean you won’t get immediate results. We live in a fast-paced world where we can find the answer to almost anything at our fingertips and in a few seconds. It’s understandable that people demand immediate gratification, but sadly that’s not how it works in healthcare. It’s not Burgr King leaving off the pickles (no offense meant to BK workers, I simply adore my Whopper), but this, it’s actually life and death. Time has to be doled out properly for that to bode well.
I can’t explain to you what it’s like to be engaged in activity to bring someone back to life, then enter your other patient room and be yelled at for not coming right away to change the television channel.
Today I was rocking my baby daughter to sleep. Well, my four year old wanted a PB&J sandwich. Since I almost had the baby asleep I asked her to wait, but she just couldn’t do it. She kept opening the door, demanding a sandwich, and whining outside the bedroom where I worked in vain to put that baby down. She didn’t see the needs of the cranky baby. She only saw the needs of herself.
But she’s four.
In healthcare, especially in the ER, but even in my critical care setting, if you are made to wait you should be thanking your lucky stars. Instead of complaining to your friends, social media, or wherever else perhaps you should take a moment and say, “thank you, Lord.”
Thank you that I’m well enough to wait.
The ability of healthcare staff to meet your needs in a timeframe that is desired by you is most likely not gonna happen. I’m sorry. But it’s not because they’re munching bonbons and watching reality TV. It’s because they’re performing CPR, getting the chest pain patient to the cath lab, or rushing the ruptured bowel patient to surgery.
Sometimes your staff may appear indifferent. I’m sorry. It’s a coping mechanism from years of tragedy and death before your eyes. Don’t take it personal.
Sometimes your provider might not give you the answer you wanted. Come on. Have a little faith in them. I don’t get in my insurance guy’s face when my premium goes up. He’s the insurance expert. I’ll trust his word.
But most importantly, there’s this one thing I can’t control. None of us can. Being sick sucks. It really, really does. We’re sorry, and we’re gonna do our best to help you, but sometimes you might not be totally satisfied with the outcome. We’re trying. I guess it could always be worse.
I like to practice gratitude in life, and if I’m still upright and breathing than I can get through the rest of it. I like to remind all patients of this. We are all human, we make mistakes, but we’re doing the best we can. I’ll try and walk in your shoes if you’ll extend me the same courtesy. Deal?