Thursday, 5 March 2009

Looking in From the Other Side

Yesterday I had an eye opening afternoon. A look at the NHS from a patients perspective. More scarily from a parent's perspective.

My boyfriend's niece who's 28 weeks old hasn't been too well recently. She has had vomitting and diahorrea for 4 days, has hardly had any bottles over those 4 days and practically stopped eating solids 3 weeks ago. On top of this she's had a snotty nose and has been wheezy since Novemeber and no matter what the doctor gives her it won't go away.

Anyway she's not been feeding, and as over 7 weeks she only put on one ounce in weight the GP told her Mum to take her to the hospital. As I had the afternoon off I volunteered to come and keep her company. What a nightmare.

The doctor (who kept us waiting for ages after telling us he'd be over in 5 minutes), turned up, hardly examined the baby and then decided he needed to find a more senior doctor... who would also be only 5 minutes. So well over an hour later a reg came along and then after that a consultant. Turns out it was most probably only viral and she was starting to pick up so realistically she wasn't that ill, so it's not the waiting that was the bother, its the fact that rather than telling us we'd be waiting some time everyone kept saying 5 minutes.

The other bother was that until the consultant came along noone could properly explain anything to the baby's mum or myself. In fact the SHO and the reg pretty much made the baby's Mum seem like she was just being neurotic and told her they'd keep the baby in overnight if she was that worried, but then started having a go at her for asking to be discharaged when she said "Well if you're only doing it to reassure me then I'll just take her home..." Very confusing.

The Consultant however was a brilliant example of how communications skills work. She was smiley and friendly. She explained everything from how WBCs show there is infection to how two different types neutrophils and lymphocytes can sugggest whether or not its bacteria which needs antibiotics or a viral infection that also needs time. She then also took the time to properly reassure mum. She sat there and told her that she'd done a brilliant job, that being slightly over cautious with a baby is the right way to be and that she shouldn't feel as if she was wasting time. She then also asked if mum had any questions. Up to this point not one other doctor had asked this. It meant she had a chance to ask about how long it would take for feeding to get back to normal and what signs she should watch out for just in case the baby got dehydrated. Overall it meant that the baby's mum left the hospital happy that her baby was on the mend without wasting NHS resources having her in overnight when she was clearly well past the worst of what was a stomach bug.

It really showed me how important communicating with patients is. Fingers crossed I'll end up more like the consultant who took the time to explain things and less like the SHO and reg who just barked orders at the patient.

Lily xXx

1 comment:

madsadgirl said...

That was probably one of the best practical demonstrations of key skills that you will ever get.