What Being a Brave Patient Means to Me
Laila Hallam, Consumer Advocate
Bravery is to continue to speak up for yourself when it’s easier to succumb and be “told.”
Bravery is to forgive when mistakes happen, and lessons are genuinely learned.
Bravery is to recognize the bright stars when otherwise poor patient experiences happen.
Bravery is when a patient chooses to speak up after a difficult experience, even when it will make no difference to their own outcome. To speak up, when it’s easier to just let it go and not make a fuss, but do so in an effort to make it better for the next person. Equally, the brave staff are those who, quietly and attentively, listen to patients who have their challenging story to tell – even when it’s hard to hear – and then genuinely commit to finding better ways.
Bravery is when staff decides to openly share difficult experiences with their peers – when it’s more tempting to keep them hidden and out of view.
Bravery is when the staff member does something special for a patient knowing it may create some inconvenience.
Bravery is when anyone (patient or staff member) challenges the entrenched status quo – for the better.
Bravery is the stamina to keep going, when those around you just don’t “get it.”
Pat Mastors, President, Co-Founder, The Patient Voice Institute
When our daughter was hospitalized with a rare and paralyzing nerve disorder, she’d see a bunch of different people every day, and it seemed the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. We’d call attention to these disconnects — it wasn’t the “worker bees'” fault — but the lack of a clear and accountable plan had to be addressed. With the help of a wonderful nurse, we arranged a “come to Jesus” meeting with the physicians in charge. THAT’s where it was important to be “brave” with our questions and concerns– meaning honest, prepared, rational and respectful. It was very well-received, and we noticed an immediate change for the better.
Lisa Freeman, Executive Director, Connecticut Center for Patient Safety
What is a brave patient? A patient who is able to question authority. A patient interacting with the health care system who is able to say to their care provider, “I don’t understand what you are saying, can you say it differently?” or who asks their care provider, “what are all of my care choices and what will their expected outcomes be?”
And a brave patient asks all of their caregivers to please wash their hands.
A brave patient is one who walks through the world of health care and expects respect for their preferences as a patient, and more importantly as a person, from everyone with whom they interact.
A brave patient is one who enters treatment for a medical condition knowing that it will be tough and filled with challenges, and is able to put their confidence in their caregivers and themselves to get through it with grace and dignity.
Being a brave patient means expressing your needs until those needs are met. Being a brave family member means advocating for your loved one even in the face of resistance. In the case of pain management for a loved one, it means going above a nurse’s refusal, speaking to a charge nurse and then insisting that the doctor be called. Being brave means taking what we have learned in a Planetree hospital and insisting on the same level of care in a non -Planetree hospital. The level of push back can be very daunting. Bravery gets us through the stress until (as an example), I am allowed to spend the night with my husband after surgery.