Bringing Compassion Into Care: “Sticking Up” for Patients and Practitioners
By Eric M. Stone, Co-Founder and CEO, Velano Vascular, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.velanovascular.com
As a chronic illness sufferer, I wholeheartedly agree with Planetree President Susan Frampton’s recent Planetalk commentary:
Indeed, despite all the technical advances of the recent past and the sophisticated care delivery and payment models that have been launched within our industry, for patients and their loved ones, the essence of what makes a healthcare experience a good one comes down to the quality of human interactions.
If you’ve ever spent a night in the hospital as a patient (if not, probability suggests that it is, unfortunately, bound to happen), you are aware that our practitioners strive to help, but by the very nature of their jobs sometimes hurt. Specifically, I’m referring to the all-too-common blood draw procedure, which is conducted an estimated 400 million times in U.S. hospital inpatient settings every year. The results of this procedure inform 70% of clinical decisions. Few will argue that “sticks”, or venipuncture, are an inevitable aspect of a hospital stay and probably even fewer would disagree with the statement that needle sticks are nearly universally disliked by patients. Merely polling friends and family leads me to the wholehearted conclusion that if you are animate, you most certainly do not like getting stuck. Meanwhile, an estimated 10% of Americans are trypanophobic , possessing a deep-seated fear of needles that can lead to delay or outright avoidance of essential care. Our current approach to phlebotomy is archaic, inhumane and generally taken for granted; blood draw technologies have not advanced much over the past few centuries.
Twenty-five years ago I was admitted to my local children’s hospital, a vulnerable and confused 14 year-old. Over the course of the next 12 days, I was stuck repeatedly day and night for “labs” – labs typically drawn between the wee hours of 4 and 6 a.m. These daily sleep disruptions may have delayed my healing, or at the very least seemed a necessary nuisance to my parents and me. I have distinct memories of fear – anxiousness about the needle, fear of the individuals (it usually took a “team” to complete each draw), and an overall sense of discomfort. I know that this experience is not only scary for kids, but is also unsettling for most adults. And I know I am not alone – these feelings are prevalent. Just scour the open text commentary in your HCAHPS, ask your patients, ask your nurses and phlebotomists. And with one in six inpatients stuck 10 or more times during their hospital stay, and one in four patients undergoing two or more lab draws per day, the fear, anticipation and discomfort usually mounts over time . Continue reading “Bringing Compassion Into Care: “Sticking Up” for Patients and Practitioners”