Putting the Burden on Patients?
I saw this ad (click on the photo for a larger, readable view) in the Wall Street Journal Monday. It's an ad run by a patient advocacy organization called “RID” (Reduce Infection Deaths).
The headline is “15 Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk of Getting an Hospital Infection.”
It's good to make patients aware about safety risks and reasonable precautions they can take to look out for their own safety. However, it's a crying shame that it comes to this… why aren't hospitals being more responsible?
The tips basically put the burden on the shoulders of patients to “inspect” their doctor's work or to tell them what to do, including:
1) Ask that hospital staff clean their hands before treating you
2) Before your doctor uses a stethoscope, ask that the diaphragm (the flat surface) be wiped with alcohol.
9) Ask your doctor about keeping you warm during surgery.
14) If you must have an IV, make sure that it's inserted and removed under clean conditions and changed every 3 to 4 days.
This is ridiculous. Maybe the burden for cleaning the “thingy “on the “doohickey” around the doctor's neck that checks your ticker should be placed on someone who knows what the diaphragm is on the stethoscope without parenthetical explanations.
Do we see this need in other industries? The need to put the burden of safety on the customer?
I can just see it now:
15 Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk of Your Plane Crashing, including:
- Carry a handheld Breathalyzer and ask your pilot to blow into it before takeoff.
- Ask to see your airline's maintenance records
15 Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk of Your New Car Having Defects, including:
- Have the dealer triple check that the wheels' lug nuts have been tightened properly
- Ask to see the Statistical Process Control charts that verify that your engine's cylinder bore diameters are within design tolerances.
15 Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Risk of Your New PC Failing, including:
- Make an unannounced trip to the factory and ask that PC assembly operators are wearing proper static-protection wrist bands.
- Ensure that the bands and their grounding are properly grounded (press the button labeled “test” on the workstation)
Asking patients to track such details, expecting THEM to know how often an IV should be changed is an outrage. Hospitals and physicians, please quit abdicating your patient safety responsibilities onto the patients. If hospitals were following “standardized work” practices, we wouldn't have to make patients worry about and track issues like this themselves.
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