Patient safety includes patients’ subjective feelings of safety
I have participated in and taught about interprofessional collaboration (IPC) for many years, but last week I experienced it firsthand from a new perspective… as a patient.
Here’s a quick replay:
It is 6:15 AM. No coffee. Emerging from the changing room in a hospital gown and disposable slippers I re-enter the Admitting waiting area with others similarly attired, accompanied by our respective escorts. The only exuberance is among a group of three teenage girls, whose noisy laughter and nonchalance exudes the indestructibility of youth.
From Admitting, on to the Pre-Op waiting area. One by one patients are called, and then it’s my turn. Past the swinging double doors, down a wide corridor, more people in surgical scrubs, into the Operating Room. It’s kind of freaky being the one with the IV: “Just hop up here onto the operating table.” A narrow bed in the centre of that big room, with really bright lights just like on TV. Ummm…sure. Too late to back out now.
Have you noticed how right away you can feel a room’s atmosphere (positive or negative)? Well in that moment of total vulnerability, I sensed the camaraderie of a super-high-functioning team. I felt respect, cooperation, kindness and compassion. Not just toward me but to each other. More than anything anyone actually said or did, the underlying atmosphere was like a warm blanket of reassurance and comfort.
Health and counselling practitioners universally affirm the importance of positive regard, mutual respect, trust and acceptance in relation to our patients or clients. Last week was a good lesson about how profoundly our interprofessional relationships – those same elements of positive regard, mutual respect, trust and acceptance – are visible, impactful and meaningful. Just like kids know when their parents are fighting (even in the absence of verbal cues), patients know when there is discord in the team.
As I discovered firsthand, IPC is not just about patient safety, it’s also about patients’ subjective feelings of safety. A skillful surgeon is key. An outstanding team takes it to the next level.
P.S. The biopsy was negative.