I learned a very valuable lesson this week. Everyone that works in health care doesn’t know jack about being a patient, until they are one. If we did, we’d take better care of everyone. We really would.
I was on the other side of the ‘bedside’ this week. It was nothing emergent or life-threatening. But yet it still was important to me and my family.
We nurses (I only use nurses since that’s what I am) tend to trivialize and even minimize what the patient and their families are experiencing, regardless of what that may be at any given time. I think we do this subconsciously or subliminally or maybe even reflexively because it’s something we ‘deal’ with every day we (as nurses) come to work. Dare I say aspects of our job become repetitive in nature (to a varying degree)?
Being on the receiving end of that clockwork care sprung my eyes wide open. I realized how much I have failed my patients in recent months.
Something that seems so trivial and minimal for me can a be very big deal and could quite possibly be a life-altering event for someone else (our patients).
Yes, I’m being vague. It’s intentional.
Take for instance something as â€˜repetitive’ as dressing changes. For us, we almost go on autopilot about all the varying aspects of a proper dressing change. Everything from the type of tape, type of gauze or drainage pad, the integrity of the skin, the healing process of the skin, the condition inside the wound, around the wound and outside the wound. The important aspects of wet versus dry. Proper cleaning techniques. Knowing when to dab, knowing when to wipe. What looks good? What looks bad? (the list is quite possibly endless). When we do a dressing change we sometimes fail to properly educate the patient and their family members. We sometimes fail to put ourselves in their shoes. The insurmountable amount of questions they may have. Their fear. Their intentions, etc., etc.
I guess being the patient reminded me of how delicately balanced our responsibilities are, and I’m glad I was reminded in a cooperative and kind way. Because the fact of the matter is, we deal in life and death every hour of our working day. I don’t want any part of my care becoming trivial.