Uncovering A Deeper Truth

Diving deep into the depths of patient safety at #AELPS16 has uncovered deep truths, deeper desires and an epiphany…or as David likes to call it, an “a-ha” moment (and there were many for all of us at #AELPS16). Let me explain.

I work in emergency medicine. A buffer for the undifferentiated, where time-poor workers battle a “controlled” chaos. It’s also where patients come. Patients who have a stubbed toe, sprained ankle, a cough or a heart attack. By practicing the virtues of patient-centred care we can appreciate that these aren’t patients who have presented to be an inconvenience, but have come because there was nowhere else to go. Ask why. Why did they present. There are many reasons why they present including health literacy and healthcare infrastructure. The truth distills down to the fact that, in their mind, we are their only hope.

As staff within this chaos, because of H.A.L.T., our own health literacy, our despondence with the system and with ourselves, we can succumb to coping techniques such as labelling, lecturing patients, being dismissive and spiral into a cognitive blackhole where human error thrives. Just like a butterfly flapping its wings in the middle of the pacific ocean, initial impressions have the power to harm, and worse, kill.

We are their only hope. Remember that next time you see a patient and prevent harm in ways that you’ve never thought.

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