Saturday, September 16, 2006

Courtesy and respect: Two important words

Rodney Dangerfield has made a living off the line, “I don’t get no respect.” For our patients, though, respect is no laughing matter.

People almost always understand they need to be hospitalized, but rarely does someone really want to spend time in a hospital. Imagine if you, or a loved one, were the patient. You give up a great deal of independence, a certain amount of privacy, and -- even under the best of conditions -- some comfort.

So it’s no surprise that patients, when asked what matters most in their hospital experience, say it’s “being treated with courtesy and respect” by nurses, doctors and anyone they come in contact with. Logically, the very first question on the new HCAHPS inpatient survey is:

During this hospital stay, how often did your nurses treat you with courtesy and respect?

__ Never __ Sometimes __ Usually __ Always

We will begin using the survey on Oct. 1, and results will be publicly available in late 2007.

Using key words at key times is one action that can help improve the patient experience, and demonstrate that Backus Hospital practices patient-centered care. (Of course, words must always be matched by actions.) For example:

  • “Is there anything else I can do for you? I’m here to help you.”
  • “I am taking notes while listening to you because what you’re saying is important.”
  • “I am closing this door (or pulling this curtain) because we are concerned about your privacy.”
  • “It looks as if you’re comfortable. I’ll be back in (estimated time period) to check in on you again.”

If this sounds like the good old-fashioned manners your Mom taught you, you’re right. Laugh at Rodney Dangerfield, but listen to your Mom.