Safety Questions, and Good Advice for Those of Us in the Henhouse

April 26, 2008 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

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If you are among the people who read my blogs on a regular basis, then you already know how dangerous healthcare can be. Sad, because healthcare is intended to IMPROVE lives, certainly not hurt them.

In fact, healthcare can be dangerous, sometimes randomly through mistakes and missteps. It can be dangerous for what is ignored or through mere laziness. Other times it’s dangerous because of access questions — if you don’t have the right insurance, or if you are lacking insurance, you don’t have the same options as others.

I do not believe any provider or payer ever sets out to make it intentionally dangerous, but then, the road to heaven, etc etc….

Knowing how dangerous healthcare can be, a whole new “industry” has begun to build — an industry of professionals who provide tools and advice to patients to help them stay as safe as they can. That’s my world now — an advisor to those who may be unsuspecting, not even questioning whether their healthcare will help them, not understanding that in fact, it might be quite dangerous.

Among the aspects to my work is the fact that I read and research constantly. The bulk of my day is spent learning what’s going on in the world of healthcare. What’s out there that is dangerous? What new dangers have evolved? What is being done to keep patients safe? What can I recommend to patients to help them keep themselves safe?

One phenomenon I’ve witnessed in the past four years is a transition within providers themselves: from either ignoring or denying safety problems exist, to not only understanding them, but now jumping on the bandwagon to provide tools to patients to help them stay safe.

I have mixed feelings — very mixed. While I very much appreciate the fact that providers aren’t in so much denial as they used to be, and are willing to observe problems and suggest ways to alleviate them, I also feel it’s a little like asking the fox to explain to the chickens how they can keep themselves from being eaten…

And yet…. I appreciate the fact that they ARE trying to keep us patients from being ‘eaten.” I do understand that it’s not realistic to ask them to change their “diet” to begin with.

OK — so with that admission — this article arrived in my Inbox this week. From RNCentral — a website created for nurses and thos who would choose nursing as a career. The article is called 25 Tips to Protect Yourself from Medical Errors.

It’s good. There’s plenty of good advice in it. I’m very happy the link was sent to me so I can share it with you.

But I ask you — does my fox and chickens metaphor strike anyone else as appropriate too? For example, why are the professionals who are supposed to be the ones to KNOW to wash their hands to prevent infection, telling us it’s our responsibility to make sure they do?

Read it. You’ll learn from it. And yes, much of the advice is geared to patients to handle themselves when no provider is around to help, or for interface with professionals. These are patient responsibilities and have nothing to do with foxes, henhouses, or chickens….

::sigh:: I hate it when cynicism plays a role in well-intentioned advice. Welcome to my world….

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