Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Know a Hospital is Not a Hotel

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted; sorry to those of you who do look at my little blog.

I just read this article, and I have to say I was a little peeved that I couldn't comment on it. A little background:

The article is written by a nurse, and she is talking about the trend of hospitals to seek customer satisfaction input and how now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be basing reimbursement on the same patient satisfaction indicators.

What I have to say in response is that I know the hospital is not a hotel. Some of you may know that my mom has been in the hospital, three different hospitals, actually, over the past 3 weeks. I can tell you without a doubt that my "customer satisfaction" as a daughter has  changed sometimes by the minute. I can parse out the fact that my mother feels lousy, and some of the things they have to do make her feel even worse in the short term.

What I know is that the way each procedure, whether it's walking in physical therapy or inserting a PICC line is enhanced or made worse by the attitude of the medical professional. I have witnessed some truly awful nursing and doctoring, and let me tell you, when it's your mother, there is no satisfaction. And sometimes five minutes later someone with more care and compassion comes in and satisfaction goes up.

Having worked in hospitals, where I had to give people those satisfaction surveys, the hope is that people had more of the good experiences. The author of the New York Times editorial thinks that the person who gets the bad news that they have terminal cancer will somehow be less satisfied with the hospital.

My position is that the person who gets that bad news is going to be influenced positively or negatively by the way they were told. I have seen people get horrible news, but news that is delivered with care and compassion. The same people go on to report a positive hospital experience, because the doctor and nurses and social workers took the time to deliver the news in a humane and compassionate manner.  Let that be the standard.


  1. I respectfully submit that when someone is sick, either personally or with someone they love it can be, and often is, an overwhelming situation.
    Within that context are also many other factors that affect a persons ability to cope with that situation.
    As a critical care nurse I see the spectrum of this, and have to deal with the attitudes within that.
    I appreciated the article because, as I see it, the stretch of the healthcare dollar means that I have to do more in less time. Within my budgeted time period, I may feel rushed and frustrated and having to conduct my patient care under minute by minute scrutiny does not help the situation. I would like people to understand that considerate, understanding behavior does help all the way around and when someone hurts because I turn them, or ask them to do things like cough and deep breathe (when their pain medication is already maximized and further medications would compromise their breathing) I’m not trying to hurt them, or be mean (that’s creepy), but I want them to get better, and even though I may say this, I’m often met with non-compliance or indifference.
    Having also been on the receiving end of health care, I also understand your point, and my hope is that we all work at being thoughtful and considerate, regardless of the situation and what role we are involved in.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I certainly understand that all health care workers are being asked to do more for less, and this is a trend that I truly regret. I do understand that as a nurse, your time with a patient is limited, and I also appreciate the fact that you are human, and you have good days and bad days, just like the rest of us.

      What I find frustrating is that there are so many people in health care who don't seem to have respect for their patients, they seem to hate their jobs, and they don't seem to consider that patients feel lousy and families are scared and frustrated. But know that I know this is not true of all health care workers. Just as the patient with a sunnier disposition makes it easier for you to do your job, a nurse with a sunny disposition makes it easier for a patient to be in the hospital. We're all in this together.

  2. I appreciated the article because, as I see it, the stretch of the healthcare dollar means that I have to do more in less time. walkers minnesota