Thursday, July 22, 2010

A prompt response please

I was reminded this week of the extreme importance of a prompt response regarding test results and/or a call from a nurse or doctor. Is it too much to ask, especially in this day and age of immediate response technology, that a patient wait more than 24 hours for health information, critical or not?

We as patients need to be direct and crystal clear with our medical providers as to what they mean when they say “I will get back to you”. Does that mean this afternoon, tomorrow, the end of the week or sad to say in some cases, when they get back from vacation? I completely support any medical providers attempt to get adequate rest and relaxation which might include a vacation. We want them to be at their optimum, but not at the expense of patients waiting for a return call wondering about important medical information.

Respect of a medical provider’s time is essential since they have an enormous job to perform. However respect of patient’s time is just as essential. Both roles have enormity to them requiring mutual respect that flows both ways. I am more than willing to respect my nurse and doctor and the time it takes to do their job. However, I am simply asking them to respect me back and the fact that I too perform an important job in my life. We need to come to a place of mutual understanding with regards to the delivery of health care information.

Allow me to give you some hard earned tips for the next time you might be waiting for some information from a nurse or doctor and someone says, “We will get back to you or someone will get back to you”.

-Confirm if the information will be given by a phone call or a letter
-Confirm who will be calling you back and will it be the nurse or the doctor
-Confirm the exact date and approximate time you can expect a call back
-Confirm if the person in charge of your information will be out of the office the next few days and if so will you have to wait for your information while they are out
-Clarify your expectations with your provider and if they can’t meet them ask to be referred to someone who can meet your expectations

It is important to be kind and respectful in your conversation. Make every attempt to keep your voice calm as you are communicating honestly about what you expect to happen. Don’t be afraid to display your humanness in your attempt to obtain the best possible outcome. In my experiences with nurses and doctors it was when I was willing to share a human part of myself that it allowed them to do the same. In being clear and direct about what I considered necessary in a medical as well as a human relationship with my medical providers, I was then able to be not only a patient but also a mother, a wife, etc. The opportunity for a human experience inside the medical one was present allowing both of us, patient and provider, to serve and stay committed to each of our agendas. Through that type of relationship we will raise the bar, improving the quality of health care received and delivered.

It's true that most often we can’t change what happens to us, but we can Be the Change while it’s happening.

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