Patient Reports Of “Suffering” Drop As Doctors Improve Daily Interactions

Patient suffering in a medical setting is most often associated with painful side effects, a chronic ailment or an invasive surgery. In worst-case scenarios, some unfortunate individuals are harmed by grave errors, such as a misdiagnosis, botched operation or wrong medication.

But what about the level of suffering caused by inattentive or thoughtless care on the part of attending doctors and nurses? How does this impact the patient’s outcome and overall experience?

A number of hospitals around the nation are making it their goal to reduce patient harm caused by lackluster treatment, middle-of-the night wake-up calls for bloodwork, poor communication and other facets that leave already vulnerable patients feeling lost in the shuffle.

Harms incurred by inattentive medical care

Dr. Kenneth Sands, the chief quality officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, tells the New York Times that addressing this sort of patient suffering is equally important as reducing preventable injuries incurred from medication mistakes or even hospital-acquired infections. But, in order to quantify what patients really think of their treatment, Dr. Sands and his colleagues went straight to the source and began asking them directly and taking note of their feedback.

Patients’ responses were not surprising. Areas to be improved were communication and bedside manner and a greater respect for privacy when discussing private ailments in earshot of other patients. Direct queries have also been supplemented with patient surveys, which have been around for years, but perhaps not utilized fully. Hospital administrators, keenly aware of the incessant waking of patients at all hours of the night for various tests, have begun to glean an obvious element of patient suffering to this end.

One Medicare survey question caught the eye of Yale-New Haven Hospital’s patient experience medical director, Dr. Michael Bennick. The question asked if the patient’s room was quiet at night, but the more relevant question thought Bennick was “Are you able to get a good night’s sleep without interruption?”

“I told the resident doctors in training: ‘If you are waking patients at 4 in the morning for a blood test, there obviously is a clinical need. So I want to be woken, too, so I can find out what it is.’ ” According to Bennick, after new instructions were given to his team, those late night or 2 am blood draws stopped completely and he never once got a phone call.

By better managing medication times, blood draws and other tests more efficiently, and letting patients sleep through the night, the unit’s score on the Medicare survey greatly improved, and without additional costs.

Other doctors and hospitals around the nation are adopting this approach as well. Spending more time listening to patients, coordinating medical tests at better times, slowing down and really focusing on each and every interaction, and ensuring their charge feels like a real person and not just a number.

Expert legal advice from NY medical malpractice attorneys

Meeting the emotional needs of patients should be paramount for any health care provider, whether a midwife, nurse or surgeon.  But beyond this very important facet, medical professionals take on a huge responsibility to make sure their patient receives a certain standard of care. When deviations take place, lapses of judgment are made, or gross negligence becomes a factor, patients have legal rights.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an injury caused by negligent care in a hospital or clinic setting, you may have a viable claim for compensation. The Sanders Firm is here to listen to your story and outline your best options for recourse. To find out if you are entitled to file a New York medical malpractice lawsuit, call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY to arrange a free case review with a member of our firm. Resources

  1. New York Times, Doctors Strive to Do Less Harm by Inattentive Care
  2. Consumer Reports, When your doctor\’s bedside manner is vital,