Whose Patients Are They Anyway?

Posted by Kristin Baird on October 23rd, 2015 • 1 Comment »

The other day I had an interesting conversation with someone who had been working in healthcare less than a month. Making her transition from the hospitality industry, she had lots of valuable experience in customer service. In our conversation, when I said that not all of the staff have patients but they all have customers, she challenged me. She felt very strongly about the term patient vs customer. “They are all patients,” she explained. “Even if the staff doesn’t work directly with the patients, they are still THEIR patients.”

Okay. I like this concept, but let’s ponder this a bit. When inpatient census is high and the nurses are juggling up to nine patients, are they still EVERYONE’s patients? In my opinion, they become everyone’s patients when everyone pitches in. That means having processes in place like a “no pass zone” and a high census plan that gets all hands on deck. The support can come in many forms including having administration pass fresh water and make rounds while the business office staff answers call lights, etc.

It so happened that as we were having this discussion of semantics that the nurses were up on the units scrambling with high census. Let’s just make sure that when we say that they are EVERYONE’s patients that they are really everyone’s patients.

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Baird Consulting

One Response to “Whose Patients Are They Anyway?”

  1. John Self says:

    I do not care what you call them as long as you make their care very, very personal.

    I would rather shift the focus to “family member” or “best friend.” We have such a huge problem with quality of care and patient safety — despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars to correct this embarrassing issue — that I prefer to think of patients/customers as beloved family members or best friends with the thought that making a mistake with their care would be so painful that it would be almost unbearable. This is not a moral duty for the nurses, techs, aids, etc. It begins in the CEO’s office and must extend throughout the organization. No slogans or posters! Just day in and day out dedication to the idea of making it personal.

    A final thought: no one, and I mean NO ONE should be entitled to a job in healthcare, I don’t where the applicant went to school, how many degrees or certifications he/she has. Working in healthcare should be a privilege and an honor. If they don’t buy in to that value, do not hire them. We have drifted so far from our core values, physically and emotionally, that I am not sure we can ever find our way home.

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