No one that has been to a hospital emergency room recently would argue that there is a lot of room for improvement in the care we receive there. My family has had the distinct privilege of being there three time in the past few months, each with different results, but we saw gaping holes.
For one thing, we entered one hospital with a child with blood seeping from his lower eyelid and we were told to have a seat in the waiting room. When more than 15 minutes passed, we left for another ER that took him right in.
The next time we were at the ER, we came in by ambulance. The place was packed, but because of the circumstances (pain in a pregnant woman’s abdomen) some nurses took pity on us and got her assistance. (It also helped that we were in the middle of the hallway where nurses had to walk by me to get where they were going!)
This last time, Virtuous Blonde went to Labor and Delivery to get a pain checked out before going on our mini-vacation and they sent her to the ER because she was under a certain number of weeks. She went down there but realized that she’d never get in because she was not in critical condition.
What is happening in these places? Waste. Cal Thomas writes about this, talking about the solution to the problem. The problem is that people do not seem themselves as part of a solution to a problem. They do not optimize their tasks or realize the impact that things have on their patients. They may be saving lives, but they are not leaving good impressions.
For instance, in the time where we were in the hallway getting care because we came in on an ambulance, there was a man that was also in the hallway who had been there for over twelve hours. They had not moved him to a room. He was not even in a comfortable bed. I understand that there were more pressing needs at the time, but that man will never have a good opinion of that hospital, and the next time he might just stay home.
In my profession, we’re constantly working on processes and continuous improvement. We’ve learned that constant firefighting without metrics and understanding the customer just leads to discontent within the ranks and poor service.
Hospitals need to evaluate rolls, come up with some tangible performance metrics, and even think outside the box. Thomas mentions that one hospital employs a a client manager that keeps patients up to date about where they were in the queue, what the status of tests were, etc. This in and of itself would be a tremendous aid, because if you can’t see them working, you tend to think that they don’t care or aren’t doing anything about your situation.
Emergency Rooms have to do something and throwing money, government involvement or more staff isn’t the solution. They need some good procedures and to have a customer focus.