Press Ganey and Why a lot of your Patients are “Regulars”

Before you read further, there is something you need to understand. This isn’t an article supporting administrative decision on the importance of patient surveys. Nor an article that supports those healthcare workers who live to blindly serve, fail to think for themselves and are oblivious to the real issues in relationships between caregivers and patients today. So if this is you, set your sensitivity aside and don’t get offended if you are guilty of what I am about to discuss. Lets set the tone here and share some brutal honesty. F*ck the Press Ganey. You know, that little survey your patient gets that determines so much as it pertains to hospital ratings and protocols. We live in an age of healthcare where press ganey scores dictate a good amount of hospital operation, patient interaction and modes of care. People think that means tending to your patients every want, giving that medication that starts with a “D” for chronic shoulder pain, and kissing their ass because you want that good score right? Wrong. That may be what potentially boosts your survey rating but, that is not always what your patient needs.

Now, with relevance to caregiver patient interaction, here are the facts. We are there to advocate, educate, and empathetically relate. NOT ENABLE. Don’t tell them not taking their meds, still smoking and not following the diet or exercise program they should be to better their health is okay. Stop making them think it’s okay to keep coming to the hospital constantly for the same complaint. Stop welcoming them with open arms, turkey sandwiches and Sierra Mist when they come in with abdominal pain and hyperglycemia just because you want that satisfactory rating.

You’re not there to be their friend. You’re there to be a caregiver and HELP them to NOT come back. And I mean that in the best way possible. If that means being blunt at times, then that’s what you have to do! You can provide amazing care and create meaningful relationships with your patients without babying them.  Stop sugar coating it. Their uncontrolled “diabeetus” can’t handle it. And it may be just what they NEED!

Until we all understand this, front line employees and administration alike. Shift our focus to what really matters in healthcare and bring back the old school standard of the patient following what the doctors and nurses suggest and not the other way around. We will continue to see the same patients day in and day out, nights too for all my night shifters, occupying our beds and attention. The same beds and attention that may be needed for true unsuspecting emergencies coming through those hospital doors. This doesn’t mean take away their autonomy; I strive to include patients in all decision-making and plans of care. But don’t let that plan of care include brushing off the fact they are continuing to smoke a pack a day and can’t understand why their CPOD (COPD) is bringing them to the ER every week.

So to everyone out there involved in healthcare in some way, administration, nurses, doctors, dietary, house keeping, aides, etc.  I hope you read this and it helps to improve your interaction and tolerance to counterproductive tendencies of your repeat patients. Remember what’s important when it comes to providing effective healthcare. Don’t be afraid to take the tough love approach. That stern talk, decision to not give them what they want, and eye opener to the reality of the situation, that being an earlier death is imminent if something doesn’t change. May be just what the doctor didn’t order, even if some irrelevant survey says otherwise. Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to follow up with your primary care physician, take your medication as prescribed, and lay off the booze. Who am I kidding? I’ll see you later this week Frank. And here’s your box lunch to go.

This article is not directed toward everyone, intended to offend anyone, nor an example of how you should interact with every patient you encounter. I pride myself in my bedside manner and the ability to build rapport with my patients. I also embrace, when necessary, my ability to keep it factual and promote what is most important to the patient’s plan of care and overall health. I understand the importance of the Press Ganey. I just don’t agree with how we are encouraged to approach healthcare and patient interaction in order to hopefully result in said patient completing the survey and leaving a raving review, for their 2nd visit that week.

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