Over the years I’ve collected dozens of photographs of signs posted in hospitals and clinics. They range from absurd to disturbing and downright hilarious. It’s amazing to me that organizations will spend millions of dollars on new construction with carefully designed healing décor only to allow it to be cluttered from end to end with paper signs tacked up with masking tape or thumb tacks. Not only are the signs tacky or trashy looking, they are often one person’s quick solution to a problem. Unfortunately, once posted, the sign will very likely stay there for years. We only notice things when they are new. For the most part, we walk past these things every day and they become so common that we no longer see them. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for our patients. They see them. They read them and form opinions about the organization based on what they read. Here are just a few that make me wonder; what were they thinking?
|Registration||Stand back and wait your turn||How do you say “welcome?”|
|Lab||Take a number||Do you really want to be exactly like the butcher shop?|
|Peds Clinic Elevator||This elevator eats little fingers. Parents keep you children back.||Let’s hope there are no precocious readers waiting for the elevator. They may need psych services|
|Surgical waiting room||For help dial 2122 (except the phone was removed from the wall)||Don’t offer help unless you plan to deliver|
|Information desk (which is the first thing a visitor sees upon entering)||Welcome. No one is available to assist you.||Why say welcome if you don’t mean it?|
|Cardiac Cath department||(Halloween image of blood dripping down the door.) Enter if you dare!||When this sign was put up, did anyone think about what might be on the minds of the patients entering the department? I doubt it.|
|Restroom||Please take your soiled diapers with you.||Where in the world should they take them? Back to the waiting room?|
Owning the patient experience means taking charge of environment including signs that may not reflect the organization in the most positive light. Walk around. Keep your eyes open and question the logic of every non-directional sign.