Thursday, August 30, 2012

Knee Rehab: Ups and Downs

The road to recovery is not smooth. Infection has reared its ugly head which slows the rehab process. We are hopeful that with the introduction of antibiotics this stumble will be short.

This medical problem has emphasized a bigger and more endemic problem - communication. As in the famous quote from "Cool Hand Luke." What we have here is a failure to communicate. Husband has a prodigious capacity to endure pain. The nursing staff didn't take this in to consideration and ignored his statements of increased discomfort. Plus he doesn't register fever as the "normal" person does. So those two facts together created a situation that was more complex than necessary.

I can't fault the overworked staff too much. They don't know each patient as an individual. To them he is a knee replacement. They are not encouraged to take the time even if they want to. Time is money for the corporation that runs the show. Frequently the personel give the quick, convenient response just to get out of the room. So complaints are ignored. As aides, nurses, therapists and doctors are urged to see more patients in less time, sometimes good care gets compromised. I think that this is one of the primary problems with a big business approach to medical services _ good communication between all the parties involved from patient with family to all staff.

Is there a solution to the problem of communication? There should be a patient advocate who is part of the admittance process. Someone who's job is to take the time to learn patient and family - the  history and dynamics; expectations and experiences. Then they can advise those who are involved in patient care what they are dealing with. Is this a negative, complaining person? Or a docile patient? Does this family need a constant stream of what's going on? Or are they content with little interaction?

Seems like someone is missing a huge business opportunity. If this is the way medicine is "advancing," someone should create a questionaire for a social worker or patient advocate to administer on admittance. This professional must then be able to interpret and condense the information gathered into a form that the medical staff can read and use when interacting with the patient. Information delivered in clear, concise language so as to be actually useful. Someone smarter than I could write a good program for this. Wouldn't this lead to more efficient care? A better experience for patient and staff? Even better care which leads to shorter, less expensive medicine.

Okay, packing up my soap box for the day. I feel better for getting it off my chest. Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I know at MDA when we JBB was having his treatments, they are very proactive w/ the sorts of support that you talked about. Too bad it hasn't transferred from the arena of cancer to other procedures like your husband had.