Medical practices want to grow. They want to capture as many patients as they can. It is normal to want a business to be successful. The key lies in keeping the business. With a reduction in health care reimbursements, seeing more patients is more necessary than ever. For many healthcare organizations, the balance of quantity and quality is muddled. Patients expect a high level of care and will go elsewhere to get it. More and more medical practices are realizing the importance of a positive patient experience. But what happens when you are in a hospital bed unable to go elsewhere? What happens when the care you receive is so poor, your life is in jeopardy?
After being admitted to the hospital for an infection, Patty thought she was getting better, until she started getting severe back pain. “I thought it was my kidneys and that perhaps I ended up getting a kidney infection. With my history of blood clots, I also thought it could be a clot in my kidneys” said Patty S. “The pain was so bad I was in tears. I called for the nurse. Thirty minutes later she came to see me. I explained my pain and asked for pain medicine to ease it.”
“The nurse showed up with my normal medication – nothing extra. I asked her to please help me, that I was in serious pain, but she wouldn’t go beyond my normal pain medicine and did not seek a doctor. While she was in the room I called my daughter and begged for help, crying into the phone. My daughter asked to speak to the nurse, but the nurse refused. She said she was drawing blood, which she was not. I was later told that I could not have any additional pain medicine until late in the evening because I took the medicine she insisted on earlier” said Patty.
The next day Patty had mixed feelings about how to handle the events of the night before. Always quick to compliment a good deed, Patty felt uncomfortable reporting the disrespect and poor care she received the night before. After careful consideration, she decided to report it to the nurse manager who handled it well and appeared apologetic.
To determine what was causing the pain, an inconclusive x-ray and later CT scan were performed. Two days later she learned that she had pulmonary emboli (blood clots) in her lungs. “The doctor told me I was lucky to have survived. I now feel righteous with my decision to report the nurse’s poor care.” Still not out of the woods, Patty is receiving treatment for the clots.
It is a shame that medical care can be so wonderful one day and poor the next – even within the same facility. The medical industry must make it a priority to provide consistent, high quality care to each and every patient they see. Patients must receive the respect they deserve and not feel uncomfortable asking for help. If you want to know how your practice ranks, consider medical mystery shopping. It is a great way to review your practice from the patient’s perspective.