Tag: ambulatory surgery
Interacting with patients and their families can be very rewarding. Most are kind, grateful for the care we provide, and responsive to our instructions. Effectively communicating with patients can sometimes be challenging, and patients may say and do things that add to these challenges.
Here are six things I’d like to say to patients, as well as some steps that may help avoid saying them.
We love a good sense of humor, and also love sharing banter with you as we prepare you for surgery. However, please do not tease about the stuff that matters: what we are doing for you today, when you last ate or drank, or other critical questions that require serious answers.
Sometimes, a simple…”these next three questions I require your attention as part of our safety process” may get the message across.
Please tell your caregiver to dress warmly and bring an activity to pass the time. For them, much of the time in our center will be both boring and cold, and we can’t fix that. We hate it when they look cold and miserable, and our bath blankets are in limited supply.
Include caregiver expectations as part of the pre-op teaching process. Something like “It tends to be cold and boring for caregivers here, so instruct them to dress warmly and bring something to do” .
I wish we were not running late. It is something we hate, and do everything to prevent it. Once we are behind, however, we cannot fix it. You would not want us to rush anything for your care, and we won’t do it for others either.
On late running days, I try to keep everyone updated, both in pre-op and in the lobby. Proactive communication prevents some of the frustration. Sometimes, a reminder to the the patient that they wouldn’t want us to rush their care helps.
NPO means NPO. Please follow our fasting guidelines. It is not just an inconvenience for you, it may impact your safety. A little food prior to surgery is not worth a hospital transfer and pneumonia or worse.
When providing NPO instructions prior to surgery, including that the reason is for their safety, which may mprove compliance.
We don’t judge you if you smoke. However, it will slow your healing and impact your post operative course. Also, please don’t smoke as much as possible prior to arrival, as the smell stays with you and impacts others. Same with perfume and cologne. Even our “nurses noses” are impacted when overdone.
Including the no smoking or fragrances as part of the pre-op teaching.
Please don’t give us your driver’s license weight. I know mine lists my goal weight. We won’t tell anyone, and if we were good at guessing, we’d have joined the carnival. We use your weight to make decisions about medication dosages and equipment safety.
Include weight measurement as part of the pre-operative process prior to surgery.
Do you have honest advice you would love to share with patients? I would love to hear them! Please share in comments, or send me an e mail at email@example.com. Thanks!
Maybe I’m “old school”, but I hate bad customer service. Whether it’s trying to get a live person on the phone, trying to find out information about a bill, returning a product that didn’t work, or scheduling a repair, it just seems to be such a challenge. I find it to be a problem both personally and professionally. The time spent on hold alone is ridiculous. Lately, either I am growing more intolerant or the problem is growing, which caused me to step back and find some solutions I thought I would share.
On the service receiver side: A center was struggling to get medical clearances from a specialist consistently. I was having to step in to make calls routinely to request clearances at the eleventh hour so surgery wouldn’t have to be cancelled. It became a routine conversation in the facility..accompanied with rolling eyes and sighs (on my part as well!). I’m sure you know the drill…patient needs clearance…requested it a week ago, left two voice mails, surgery tomorrow. After multiple calls on multiple patients, I decided to approach it differently. I called the facility leader and made it our problem. Yup! I basically stated that I realized that our facility staff MUST be impacting their practice with all our calls and faxes, and that we clearly must not understand their process, and would they be so kind as to help us understand what we were doing wrong? Of course I added an apology for all the time our requests must be adding to their already busy day. We got the clearance within the hour! What I learned? Complaints often get a deaf ear, but making the problem about process may get the attention it needs.
On the service provider side: I had a situation recently where a physician was complaining about something to me that was, in all honesty, a bit nit picky. It was, in my brain, something he should have resolved on his own, and definitely would not be on my priority list. It became clear, however, that it was important to him. I could have dealt with the issue in several ways…procrastination, delegation, refusal and referral all came to mind, but after I let go of my perception of the complaint, I realized that, despite my “rating” of his concern on my task list, it was important to him. I stopped what I was doing, made it my priority, carved out a little time, and got the issue fixed. The result? You would have thought I solved a world problem. I even got feedback from others as to his perception of me getting things done efficiently. What l learned? If it is a priority to my customer (within reason, of course), making it my priority will reflect positively on my relationship, so carve out the time to problem solve.
So, if you are like me and feel frustrated with customer service woes as well, especially if it causes eye rolling and sighing, take a step back and look at it differently. Put yourself in the other person’s role. If you are the customer, how can you voice your concerns in a way that the service provider will respond? If you are the service provider, if the problem is important to your customer, it is important. In either case, a little perspective review, and your customer service problems may get just a bit better.
As always, thanks for reading my posts! I consider my readers my customers, and I’m hopeful that I add a little support and insight in what you do.
I am writing my blog this week as I sit in an old friend’s breakfast restaurant drinking coffee in the town where I grew up. I came here for a long weekend to visit some great friends. It has been nostalgic driving down the streets where I learned to drive, passing the house where I grew up and my old high school, remembering all the experiences that brought me to today.
Many things have changed here. The bridge we used to jump into the river from is gone, now just an overpass.
The orange groves where we would gather on Saturday nights is now a subdivision. The Drive In is now a Home Depot. I’m grateful that the warm gulf breeze is the same, and the gulf sunsets are as amazing as ever.
The town is where I became a nurse, and started in my first surgery center. I began in the PACU, crossed the red line and learned how to circulate, learned Risk and Quality, then became Nurse Manager almost 20 years ago. I considered all the things I have learned in that time, and how I would mentor my new nurse self if I could.
Here are some of my reminiscent brain musings:
Ask for help. When I was new in my role, I thought that asking for help would mean I didn’t know my job well enough. Now I recognize it as a strength, and key to being a successful leader. As a great friend recently told me, the best advice she recieved was don’t be afraid to ask why.
Don’t feel intimidated. When I started my career, I remember how some of the seasoned nurses made me feel. I will never understand why some nurses aren’t nurturing to their peers, but it is a cultural reality. Had my young nurse self not taken it personally, it would have allowed for better learning and less struggle.
Don’t assume. So often, I find that people hang on to “sacred cow” processes. My more mature self has learned to identify this, but, when younger, I trusted the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” or “those are the rules”.
Write stuff down. Update preference cards, write down processes, and update policies as things happen. You never know what will be remembered or who will leave.
Trust your gut. The best advice ever. When less experienced, it is easy to be swayed by others based on their experience or training when making critical decisions. If there are doubts, get some advice or do some homework. Often, your first instincts will be right on track. I’ve always done the…would I be comfortable with this decision if scrutinized? You will be alone in defending a decision made despite the influencers.
Find a mentor. There are several key people that were my go to’s as I was learning. I still rely on great people when I need to make key decisions, and am grateful for the great support and advice they provide. On those days when things get rough, having someone you can trust with experience is key.
I’ll finish this week’s post to return to chasing the ghosts of my past, wondering what my fresh scrubbed new nurse self would think of the now me. I hope she’d approve.