Publisher's Note

March 1, 2000

Just wait. You'll be a patient soon. Sure enough, you will get your turn to be the patient instead of the healthcare provider or caregiver eventually. You'll be on the receiving end. It's different sitting on the receiving end because you are aware of sound medical practice and infection control procedure. When you're the patient, you'll notice whether the nurse that is taking your blood or inserting an IV is doing it right according to the training they hopefully received. If they don't do it right, what would you do?

On a recent visit to a local hospital--a good one by reputation--I was on the patient side. While doing prep for an IV, my nurse spread out all her tubes and needles across the bed along with my robe. She dropped a couple of items on the floor and picked them up nonchalantly, throwing them back onto the pile on the bed. She then proceeded to put on latex gloves before prowling around the back of my hand for a suitable insertion site. Then she snapped off the entire end of the glove on her index finger--I guess so that she could get a better feel for the vein. She found the spot she sought and proceeded with her exposed index finger right over the insertion site. At that point, I protested--loudly I might add. She was so surprised that she became indignant about the whole thing. The next few minutes were obviously interesting for both of us.

Do you think that nurses and other practitioners would take more care if they thought they were dealing with educated consumers? You bet they would. Maybe there is a small lesson here about basic human behavior that would help in hospital situations like I experienced. If you think your patient is informed, would you take better care? Probably. I believe you would perform your work according to a slightly higher standard, take more care and time, and skip the improvisations and shortcuts we all create, and simply do it right.

Maybe this is a bit like the golden rule. Provide the type of care that you would like to receive if you were on the other side. Or maybe, it's like the kitchen in one of your favorite restaurants. Would you stop eating there if you ever saw the kitchen?

Craig Burr

For a complete list of references click here