A mentor once told me if you have a complaint share it but come to the table with a recommendation on how you would solve the problem. If you go to a restaurant and don’t have a good experience, most people ask to talk to a manger to share their frustration and how they would like the problem fixed. Yet, in healthcare we ‘just take it’ . This is because we don’t know who to address the problem with or we don’t feel we have a right to complain.
Today, the healthcare industry is moving to a system that is patient-centered. According to the literature, patient-centered care focuses on giving power to the patient. Care that is patient-centered supports the patient’s clinical needs as well as their emotional and educational needs. Patients and their families are included as a member of the healthcare team and collaborate in care plans and receive respect and dignity throughout the healthcare process. Patient-centered care does not view the patient as a passive recipient of healthcare, but rather as partners in their care.
Patient-centered care also delivers benefits. Studies have found that patients who have a say in their healthcare are more likely to ask questions, seek to understand, and then adhere to treatment plans—all of which promote better outcomes. They are also more likely to be satisfied with their care and less likely to file complaints or lawsuits.
Patient-centered care calls for patients to have a voice in their care. This is not always easy, as patients many times don’t know what to ask or to ask. Many patients are afraid to question a doctor or other member of the healthcare team.
My goal is writing this post is to empower people so they know that their voice is important to ensure they receive safe, quality care. Here are some tips
- Before you go to an appointment write down questions or concerns that you want ask. If you are in the hospital, try to do this before rounds. Being proactive and prepared is important.
- Have someone with you when you are a patient in the hospital, go to a doctor’s appointment or for a therapy appointment. Having another person allows you both to listen to what is being said and to formulae questions if something is not clear.
- Listening is very important today. Many of us think we are listening, but many times, we are thinking about what we want to say in response to the person talking so we really are not hearing what the person talking is saying.
- Ask the person speaking to recap the conversation. This is a good way to make sure you heard things that were said and that you understood the information and next steps.
- If you are given instructions repeat them so you can make sure you have thing correct. Most nurses and doctors will do this with you, but if they don’t ask them to listen to what you heard so that you know you got it right.
- If things are moving too fast, ask that things bel slowed down, let the team know you need time to process the information.
- If you have an issue, feel free to address it with the nurse, doctor or office staff. If you have a solution to fix an issue, offer your solution
- Putting your problems in writing helps you express yourself more clearly and can help you see things from a new perspective.
A few weeks ago, I did a video titled How to Be Your Best Advocate. The video provided some tips that you can incorporate into your routine. Click here to access the video.
Let me know your thoughts on this post and how you are stepping up to be actively involved in your care.
Have a good week.
Great article, should be given to every nursing student!
Anne – your advice is some of the best advice for any professional: if you want to complain about something be sure you have one or more suggestions for how to improve it. Leaving a complaint on the table without a suggestion labels you as a complainer. Making a complaint with good improvement suggestions labels you as pro-active – a thinker, and a leader. Thanks for this!
Thanks, for commenting Trisha. Yes, her words have stuck with me over the years. If we all did this, can you imagine what we could change?
Anne, as usual, an excellent review and a reminder to us all. Another issue I have been running into lately are MDs who are consulted to see a patient in the hospital who are out of network and the patient do not even remember seeing or understand why they were seen by them.
Thanks, Jane, yes that is a huge issue. That is why every patient needs an advocate. Taking notes is important just for the reason you mention. Also, asking if the doctors are in their network…..so when they get the bill, they understand the reason.
Excellent presentation and really enjoyed the video as well as the resources at the end—such great info! I’m a “newbie” as far as just recently certified as a patient advocate but have been trying to do many of these things for years in my practice as a PA! I am so looking forward to the conference in October and meeting other like minded people!
Thanks Debbie. Looking forward to meeting you in October!