Friday, November 18, 2011

Does a patient know best?

Laura Landro, WSJ, Nov 7, 2011, says come next fall, hospitals can lose 1% of their Medicare payment if they miss quality care goals or patients give them a bad rap.

Thus—hospitals are putting personnel through customer-service training.

Patients like cleanliness, quiet and someone who listens.

The hospitals are therefore adding massage, reflexology and concerts.

Some hospitals are also instituting a program I heard about decades ago—HEART. This stands for hear the concern, empathize, apologize, respond and thank.

Some hospitals also issue “Lavender Alerts”—for families that are stressed out.

All this is to the good. People with good English skills would also be a plus. And I am not a huge fan of the hospitalist system under which your care is turned over to a strange doctor, sometimes with limited social and language skills, for the duration of your stay.

I know this is supposed to be a plus—but it has never been one for me. I had to get a hospitalist almost physically shanghaied to my room and told him, “You have to talk to me!”

Another time, a hospitalist put our mother in restraints because she was inconvenient.

Still, many experts and some doctors say patients don’t really know what is great and what isn’t. I guess there are exceptions from what you think would be best—I know many big city trauma centers in the worst parts of town and oldest buildings are the best places to be taken.

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