Day 1: initiating safer patient care

Telluride Academy initiated its journey today. The video of 15yo boy Lewis, the personal story from Mr. Gentry, the domino game activity, and lectures were utilized to emphasize importance of effective communication in health care. I had a chance to intensely probe and exam my previous interactions with patients, their families, nursing staffs, and other members in treatment teams. Throughout the day, I had numerous moments when I recalled my memories from when I volunteered at multiple different health care settings as a college student.
We take an oath during white coat ceremony to DO NO HARM to our future patients. We have seen from reports that there are hundred thousands of lives are lost due to medical errors. According to the BMJ 2016, medical errors were third leading cause of deaths in the US after heart disease and cancer. Not making any mistakes treating our patients would be ideal and the best scenario but it would be unrealistic, at least for now. This should promote us to make further efforts to get closer to that ideal health care setting. Until then, we should be vigilant by re-visiting our diagnositc decisions and being curious about our patients and their presenting symptoms: looking at our patients as individuals instead of lab values or imaging study results and including patient’s family as members of a treatment team. This will assist treating and assessing our patients as a whole because family members are the main consistent figures in patients’ journey with their illness.
As a consultant to a primary care team, I again reassure myself of the importance of mindfulness. At times, consultants tend to look at patients through their own specialty binocular; however, I believe that a consultant is providing another set of eyes assessing and treating patients. This can be further expanded into different members in treatment team and the hierarchal culture in medicine. Nurses, doctors, pharmacist, and other staffs are providing care for our patient but with different expertise, interactions, and view points. This should not lead to a conclusion that one’s opinion is more valuable or important than others, but rather seeing it as an opportunity to see our patient from muti-directions. Thus, creating the culture that is accepting and nurturing of others’ opinions in a treatment team will guide to a better communication between providers and between providers to patients and their family members, which ultimately lead to more efficient, safer, and effective treatment for our patients.
At the end of the day, I feel more confident and knowledgeable about patient safety. However, I am still curious about how to balance patients’ best interest vs administrative pressure from hospital and insurance companies.