Gut Check – July 8th

I went into healthcare for the same reason that everyone else does – I care about human beings and want to do my part to make the human experience a better one. Over the last few days I have learned many new things about patient safety and feel inspired and energized about the change that I can be in healthcare both at my institution and across the country. However, I have been most surprised by my reaction to the stories of patients and families we have heard over the past few days. Unfortunately, I have witnessed many medical failures or missed diagnoses that have had tragic results and I have seen the tremendous grief that families experience after such losses. As an ICU nurse I am no stranger to death. The MICU I work in has the highest mortality rate after the palliative care unit. Accompanying patients and families through that time and transition is huge part of my job. It is a part of my job I find incredibly rewarding and think that I’m relatively good at at this point in my career. But today and yesterday I felt those families’ grief and emotion—or at least what I imagine it must feel like—in a way I have never experienced in my 5 years of nursing. It is truly all about perspective. And perspective means many things and can potentially cause great damage and allow for biased thinking and decision making, but it’s also about remembering to be present and engaged in the patient or families emotional wellbeing. Having that perspective and always keeping that perspective in mind is transformative. I am so appreciative of the brave individuals who come forward to share their stories, not only to help us learn from our errors and system failures, but also to give us that perspective, provide us that gut check, and remind us what this is really all about.