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The NSPA Blog

Quality Care and Common Sense

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Posted on March 25th, 2019 by Teri Dreher, under Patient Advocacy

What makes for a great healthcare team

The old adages are true – a team is only as strong as their weakest player. One bad apple spoils the whole barrel. The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You get the point. As we know, healthcare today is complex. Technology, in all of its promised glory has only complicated things. Still, we’ve see a big push for patient satisfaction and patient-centered care. And it’s working! Overall, I’ve been truly pleased with health systems and care teams that exist in Chicagoland today. But when one team member puts policy and procedure over patient care, the whole ship can feel like it’s sinking.

The full story

I recently went to get some work done for an upcoming knee replacement (I blogged all about the success of the first one here). As a former ICU nurse and current professional advocate, I know what to expect pretty well when I go into these things. The clerk greeted me with a warm welcome and registered me. I was taken for a scan and X-ray and had pleasant conversation with the care team. So far, so good.

Next, I went to the lab for my pre-op blood work. No one was there, but that wasn’t a problem. I figured they were taking a bathroom break or attending to some other need. After 20 minutes, I decided I’d try again later and went down for my EKG. I was happy to see when I got back to the lab that the technician was there. Unfortunately, they told me that since I didn’t have my stickers they couldn’t draw my blood. Okay, no problem. Back to the registration clerk. She gave me the stickers right away and I went to try again at the lab. Alas, the technician was gone again. I waited for 15 minutes before they came back. “You have your stickers? Great. How about the order for the lab work?”

Wait a minute, I thought. A. The order should be in the computer. B. Why wouldn’t they have told me this when I went to get the stickers? I asked if maybe they could go get it this time. Nope, they told me they weren’t allowed to leave the lab. Although this didn’t totally add up given my now 35 minute wait time, I decided to go back to the helpful clerk. The registration clerk was again wonderful. She made sure I had everything I needed, apologized for the inconvenience, and asked if there was anything else she could do. 3rd time’s the charm. I went back to the lab and had my blood work done.

The big picture

Up until the lab fiasco, I had had an excellent experience. Everyone I came into contact with was wonderful, except for that one person. Simply put, I felt like policy and procedure was prioritized over patient care. And frankly, the policies weren’t even followed since the tech was gone multiple times even though they told me they weren’t allowed to leave. One bad apple ruined the whole bunch. Almost. Let’s take a step back. Yes, one person lowered the quality of my visit. But, another person absolutely brought it back up. That registration clerk was a gem. When it comes to quality care and common sense, every member of the team is equally important. Their job might not seem as critical to the team as the surgeon, but this patient advocate would beg to differ.

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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