Holiday Hospital Dangers Spell HERO for Patient Advocates

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Holiday Hospital Dangers Spell HERO for Patient Advocates

There is no time like the present to keep your clients out of the hospital. Just raising the issue may make you a hero to them. I realize how dramatic that sounds, but bear with me here. Think about any workplace you’ve ever worked in during the holidays. Employees, even customers, are not nearly as focused on the work-at-hand as they are during non-holiday times. They may be taking sick days or personal days off (shopping and baking take precedence!), they may be leaving work early to see their kids in the Holiday Concert at school.  They may be laughing and joking about how someone behaved at the office party the night before, or maybe they are distracted by thoughts of the shopping that isn’t yet done, or the in-laws (who they never really get along with) who are arriving tomorrow. And that’s the point. There are dozens of time and thought-consuming distractions during holiday times. Then, as the holiday date draws closer, the most senior staff members (if not everyone) begin checking out for days or weeks of vacation time. Important questions go on a shelf until those folks return to work. Less senior staff, or part-timers, are the ones left to make snap decisions when called for, no matter how dire those decisions are. They make them to the best of their ability, but there’s always a question about whether they are making the right decision. Now let’s apply that to a hospital setting which is really no different from any other workplace when it comes to holidays, and the distractions and the absence of the people with the most experience and capability. Doctors, nurses, assistants, techs – they are all human beings, they all have the same holiday distractions and challenges as the rest of us, yet their decisions and actions can mean life or death, not simply a missed sale or a typo on a business letter. No one in healthcare intends to make a mistake, ever. But it would be folly not to realize that mistakes are far more apt to happen when distractions exist…


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