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Posts Tagged ‘John-Henry Pfifferling’

Another of the highlights of Nance’s book Why Hospitals Should Fly involves the importance of unambiguous communication and the need to seek clarity from others. The line that really caught my attention was, “I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure if you realize that what you heard wasn’t what I meant?”

All too often, in medicine and in life, miscommunications occur. When we say something, it comes from the context in which we are currently thinking. The receiver of the message may interpret the words in some completely different context. This can result in dramatic degrees of miscommunication between health care professionals and between physicians and their patients. These kinds of miscommunications are one element discussed in my book, Compartments: How the Brightest, Best Trained, and Most Caring People Can Make Judgments That are Completely and Utterly Wrong (www.compartmentsbook.com).

Nance points out that we should listen to people repeat back what they said to us. That’s one helpful approach. Having a buddy come with the patient to record key points is another. Written instructions may be the most valuable way to assure good communication between doctors and patients.

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John-Henry Pfifferling, director of the Center for Professional Well-Being, said I had to read John Nance’s book Why Hospitals Should Fly: The ultimate flight plan to patient safety and quality care (John J Nance, JD, Second River Healthcare Press, Bozeman, MT, 2008). It’s a wonderful book about the need to improve the safety of health care. The incredible safety record of the airline industry is something our medical system can learn from.

One of the highlights of the book referred to video documentation of operating room procedures. The point was, like the airline uses “black boxes” in cockpits, to review the video and identify possible areas for improvement. If any problem occurred, it is even more important to review and learn from the tapes.

Nance predicts one concern about the tapes: how they might be used against the medical system. Nance’s protagonist responds, “What are we doing [in the OR] that we want to hide?”

This is one of the fundamental principles of doctor rating on DrScore.com. Some people ask, “Won’t doctors hate this?” My response is that doctors have nothing to hide when it comes to patient satisfaction. Doctors want to give patients great medical care, and doctors do so day in and day out. Nothing could be better for doctors than for the public to know how happy most patients are with their doctors.

That’s not to say that doctors can’t do an even better job. Of course they can, and they strive to do so. Patient feedback from online doctor rating gives doctors the assessment tool they need so they know where they stand and where they need to direct further effort. While positive feedback is always welcome, feedback that identifies things that can be improved is a special gift.

Patient safety is a critical issue and one for which Why Hospitals Should Fly offers some valuable insight. However, Nance’s book isn’t about how medical care needs to be more like airlines when it comes to customer service. While I’m sure we can learn something from every industry, I’m not sure the airline industry is the best model of customer service to emulate!

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