Thursday, January 05, 2017

Doctor almost dies, now champions patients

In a story in the New England Journal of Medicine, Rana Awish, MD, director of the Henry Ford Hospital's pulmonary hypertension unit, describes a near death experience she had in 2008--a a liver tumor that caused multi-organ failure and the death of a baby she was carrying.

She underwent five major surgeries and many hospitalizations in the ICU.

As deathly ill as she was, she was surprised to encounter "casual indifference" in the staff.

As a clinician, she said, she had overlooked lack of communication, discoordinated care, and sometimes complete apathy, but she sure noticed them as a patient.

"Everything matters, every person, every time" is now her message as she tries to revamp behavior at the hospital, an effort she began in 2013.

--She has created classes in CLEAR--Connect, Listen, Empathize, Align and Respect. Health care workers in these classes practice this with actors.

--Workers shadow providers to see how they do it.

--And she emphasizes to new hires that they have value and purpose--this is not just a job.

The goal: Reducing avoidable suffering. Some suffering in a medical setting is inevitable--but it can be reduced.

Good idea--more places need to do this.

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