When you or a loved one enters a hospital, it is easy to feel powerless. The hospital has its own protocols and procedures. It is a “system” and now you find yourself part of that system.
The people around you want to help, but they are busy—extraordinarily busy. Nurses are multi-tasking. Residents are doing their best to learn on the job. Doctors are trying to supervise residents, care for patients, follow up on lab results, enter notes in patients’ medical records and consult with a dozen other doctors.
Whether you are the patient or a patient advocate trying to help a loved one through the process, you are likely to feel intimated—and scared.
Hospitals can be dangerous places, in part because doctors and nurses are fallible human beings, but largely because the “systems” in our hospitals just aren’t very efficient. In the vast majority of this nation’s hospitals, a hectic workplace undermines the productivity of nurses and doctors who dearly want to provide coordinated patient-centered care.
At this point, many hospitals understand that they must streamline and redesign how care is delivered and how information is shared so that doctors and nurses can work together as teams. But this will take time. In the meantime, patients and their advocates can help improve patient safety.