Patient Experience: Day 28 Open Your Ears, Close Your Mouth, Act Accordingly

My phone goes of at 4:59 pm and I look to see who it is. It is my mother. Text message reads: PORT WILL BE PLACED TOMORROW @ 10 WITH CHEMO TO FOLLOW. INTERVENTIONALIST DOING IT.

I respond: OKAY. HOW’S DAD DOING TODAY?

Mother replies: ABOUT THE SAME JUST MADE HIM THE DRINK WITH PROTEIN YOU GAVE HIM AND BANANA.

Me: ARE THEY GOING TO ADDRESS THE ASCITES?

Mother: THAT IS A GOOD QUESTION. NAVIGATOR SAID WE WOULD SEE MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST NEXT WEEK. I AM GOING TO MENTION TO THE INTERVENTIONALIST TOMORROW.

Me: WTF…NOT NEXT WEEK. THAT’S B.S. THEY NEED TO ADDRESS NOW, NOT NEXT FUCKING WEEK. SORRY, BUT FOR A NAVIGATOR SHE SUCKS.

Mother: SO WHO DO I PUSH, WILL INTERVENTIONALIST HELP?

Me: NAVIGATOR. INTERVENTIONALIST MAY, BUT I AM SURE HE WILL PUNT TO MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST. BRING IT UP TO INTERVENTIONALIST TOMORROW AND IF HE PUNTS IT, WHEN YOU GO FOR CHEMO TELL THEM YOU ARE NOT LEAVING UNTIL YOU SEE THE MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST AND HE GIVES YOU A PLAN TO ADDRESS THE ASCITES.

Mother: OKAY

Me: IF YOU NEED ME TO DO ANYTHING LET ME KNOW

This is a prime example of fragmentation in our healthcare system. A primary care physician defers ascites to the medical oncologist. Due to scheduling, coordination, and I am sure a number of other factors an issue that is important to my father is potentially pushed off to next week due to the normal routine of the system. The process. The schedule.

This reminds me of something I learned from a former chair of radiation oncology at UW Madison many years ago: Take your time, focus on the task at hand, you can only care for one patient at a time.

Schedules, processes, and standards are great to have in place to provide structure to a system that deals with life and death daily. However, we need to remember that each life, each story, is a variation of our own that allows us to provide value to those we care for as healthcare professionals. Treat each encounter with open ears and a closed mouth. Then act accordingly.

My father sent me a text that read: I LOVE YOU. GOD BLESS. THANKS FOR THE HELP.

My response: I LOVE YOU TOO. THEY WILL ADDRESS YOUR STOMACH. OR ELSE…

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM

~CancerGeek
#PtExp #PX #cancer #hcldr #hccosts #hcsm

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