Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sensitivity Training 101

Sensitivity Training 101.  You would think that anyone dealing with the sick would have to have a required course in Sensitivity Training.  It should be an annual course.  Maybe this is part of the curriculum when they are first trained, but they certainly forget it.  Not everyone, of course.  We have phenomenal providers who are simply the best and we would not trade them for anything, but then there are those few rotten apples that spoil the bunch and leave you needing industrial strength Listerine due to the bad taste in your mouth.

I’m talking about the nurse or other provider who leaves the patient exposed and walks out of the room or walks away from the bed to get something, or when someone walks in/out and leaves the curtain open.  I cannot tell you how many times this has happened.  I walked by a young man’s room today and saw this occur.  They were in the middle of turning him and someone walked out and left the curtain wide open.  I was a stranger and this young warrior’s privacy should have been respected.

I’m talking about the CT scan operator who tells the corpsman to place the patient on the table so he enters the machine “feet first,” even if the patient has no feet.  This may not seem like a big deal, because we know what he means; however, you do not know what is going to set this young man off.  You do not know when the gravity of his injuries is really going hit him.  A corpsman told me about a patient who experienced this and lost it during the CT scan.  How about we go with “bottom first.”  This works whether the patient has feet or not if you do not have the time to check the status of the patient.

I’m talking about the x-ray tech arguing with the doctor that the series he wanted could not be done unless the patient was brought downstairs and stood up in front of the machine.  I asked him how exactly he intended on getting him to stand when he had no legs.  His response?  “Not my problem.”

I’m talking about the nurse arguing with me that the patient is able to help the x-ray tech move himself, lift himself and turn himself so as to slide the plate under him for the x-rays.  No matter how much I tried to explain to the nurse that the patient was unable to move himself in the slightest and had a stage 4 wound on his back so that the plate COULD NOT be slid, he refused to help.  I had to call a corpsman in to help.

I’m talking about the PACU nurse arguing with me that the patient did not need pain medication when he was lying there in obvious distress.

I’m talking about the myriad of volunteers, most of whom have their hearts in the right place, who are simply too pushy.  Most of them are great, but some of them really need to back down.  Even if you tell them now is not a good time, they simply walk on in no matter what is happening in the room, peek around the curtain, push past the nurses, interrupt doctors, or stand there staring in the room until there is a small window of opportunity and rush in.  I almost had to tackle an old woman the other day who was told three times that Derek was sick and not up to visitors.  She kept peeking in and then ran past the nurse as she was leaving.

I’m talking about the providers who come to the door, not to provide care, and enter, speaking loudly, when the patient is trying to sleep.  We had one the other day, who was walking by and just decided to say “Hello,” but she screamed in the room and woke Derek, who had just fallen asleep after being very sick.  They should remember that they are in a hospital and enter quietly, not scream into the room.

I’m talking about the woman today who was rude to Krystina and simply dismissed her with a snide comment and numerous questions about what right she had to be there and get information about Derek and his future.  I’m sorry.  It’s not her place to question anyone in that room.  If Derek did not want Krystina, or anyone else to have the information, he would have asked Krystina to leave or told the woman not to give her any information.  Krystina is his fiancée, and she has a vested interest in his future.  Even if she didn’t, isn’t it up to the patient?

I’m talking about the volunteer with the dog who allowed her dog to run up to a warrior in a wheelchair, without asking him if he was okay with dogs.  The kid was terrified of dogs and when he expressed this, she snidely replied, “Well, that’s simply not right.”  No, what’s not right is you not asking first.  Sgt Archie’s (German Sheppard) Mom and Bobbie’s (Lab/Golden Retriever Mix) Mom always ask before those two angels approach anyone.

I’m talking about the volunteer this week who asked me how long I was going to be on vacation.  Last I checked, 109 days of up at 06:00, bed at 00:00, sitting in a hospital room, providing care to a wounded warrior was not a vacation.  I am tired, stressed and overwhelmed by not only everything that is going on around me, but everything that is going on at home and how I am going to piece my life back together when this is over.  All of us in the hospital have a lot going on.  We are not on a “vacation.”  When I just gave him a blank stare, he said, “Well, how long are you going to be here?  When are you going home?”  And that’s your business, why?

This really is not only a problem where we currently are “vacationing.”  I had a lot of these same experiences when I was in the hospital in the past, either for myself or with a loved one.  Many healthcare providers are jaded on certain issues, like modesty.  It is a simple thing to provide the patient, but they just don’t think about it because it’s just another body part, like an arm.  And the volunteers are really just trying to do everything they can to help.  They don’t realize that, sometimes, okay most times, we are so overwhelmed with doctors from various services, nurses, OT, PT, respiratory, etc., that we do not need someone else pushing into the room.  If we say, “Now is not a good time, thank you anyway,” or “We are fine, thank you,” please just smile and walk away.  We appreciate what you are doing.  Don’t overwhelm us.

It really comes down to being aware of your surroundings and good old fashioned communication.  Use your senses – LOOK and LISTEN.  And finally, put yourself in the position of the patient and/or family member with whom you are currently dealing.  Is that how you would want yourself or your loved one to be treated?  Even if you are so jaded by your experiences and tired from the workload, take a moment to step back and really look at the situation.  It only takes a minute. 

If more people thought about the situation from the other person’s point of view, we would have less problems, and this goes for more than just this current topic.

Okay, I’m finished.  I’m getting down and putting the soapbox away for the night.

But before I go, I have to point out that Derek’s primary team is wonderful and most of the people whom we have met have been wonderful.  The above experiences are just my rant because of things that have happened recently, and not a daily occurrence. 

Dr. Diego is a doll.  He has been super in Bograd’s wake, and although Bograd set a really high bar, Dr. Diego is trying his best to clear it, which is the best we can ask of him.  We had two full months of Bograd, and he got Derek through some really tough times, so he will always have a special place in my heart.  Bograd said he is glad to see I am involved in the “resident self esteem initiative.”  I love it.  I am not going to stop giving Dr. D a hard time and making him strive to reach that bar.  So far, we are not having such an easy time these past two weeks, and Dr. Diego is helping a lot, but I will keep making him try harder. 

Although we lost Dr. Clifford due to the end of his rotation, he was replaced by baby faced Dr. Doogie (remember Doogie Howser, MD?  Am I showing my age?).  Although it’s only been two days, we had some dealings with him as ASOD, and except for one hiccup way back when, he has been pretty good.  Time will tell if he stands up to the McConnell Test.  Dr. Clifford didn’t even warn him!  He just threw him to the tiger. 

Then of course there are those Attendings we love so much – Perdue, West and Howard.

So far I haven’t seen how any of the above doctors or any of Derek’s regular nurses need the Sensitivity Training 101 course.  Of course, if I notice something, I am quick to point it out.

God bless you all.

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