Dismissal of the Patient Voice
There's no doubt about it. Nurses are notorious for this. We are experts at relieving anxiety and establishing trust with our patients and their families. We value our experience, and we loathe webMD. We are confident in our skills and our ability to follow through. Unfortunately, the result of our confidence (and sometimes arrogance) can be the dismissal of the patient voice.
However, medicine is rapidly changing, and with that, our approach needs to as well. Today, patients are more prepared than ever. They are well versed on their insurance coverage, and they are empowered to speak up when they think something is wrong.
Maybe it's because public reporting of medical errors within hospitals is now the rule, not the exception. Maybe it's because we are providing tools for patient's to improve their health literacy, such as interactive patient education entertainment systems in their rooms, or whiteboards that include sections for patients and families to write down questions that they have. Either way, I find that patient's are more comfortable questioning physicians and nurses. And honestly, they should be.
As a nurse, some of the most valuable information came from my patient's voicing their concerns. There have been times where I had to swallow my pride or admit I was wrong. However, when nurses can actively listen to a patient and change their actions to advocate for them, it is a powerful thing. The gesture alone can prevent major errors, unnecessary spending, and ultimately strengthen their trust in you as their caregiver.
So next time you start to respond to a patient's concerns, I urge you to stop, absorb, and really think about what they are saying. Dismissing the patient voice should now be the exception, not the rule.