Providing compassionate care in the moment
Observe any operating room in Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital before the first incision and you witness a beehive of activity as nurses and clinicians double check their surgical instruments, verify x-rays and make sure everything is ready for surgery. Suddenly, the pace slows as all team members stop to deliberately ask and answer key safety questions: “Is this person the right patient? Right surgeon? Right procedure according to the consent? Correct side? Correct special equipment or implants available?” This act, essential for patient safety, is repeated thousands of times a day in operating rooms across the country and is called the “Pause for the Cause.”
At a team member forum in Burnsville, Park Nicollet staff gathered to discuss how they can improve the patient experience. Many team members remarked that the rapid pace required in healthcare, inside and outside the operating room, represented their biggest obstacle to providing their patients with compassionate care in the moment. Unfortunately, given the demands of modern medicine, no magic wand exists to reduce this rapid pace. Given this reality, what can we do to enhance our consistency in providing compassionate care in the moment?
One Park Nicollet team member provided a remarkable response by recommending that we include a “pause for the person” in our patient care checklist. Providing a momentary break in the frenetic pace of healthcare, a “pause for the person” invites us to answer questions such as: “What are the patient and family feeling? What are their emotional needs at this moment? Are they feeling vulnerable? What do they fear? How can I connect with them? How can I be more present?”
I did something similar when I was practicing earlier in my career. Before I treated my patients, I paused to think of my mother, Shirley, and how she wanted to be treated as she struggled with cancer. This simple technique helped me remember the importance of providing compassionate care in the moment to patients and families.
“Pause for the person” is a great example of Park Nicollet’s internal culture of “Head + Heart, Together.” The pause helps us combine all of the necessary medical tasks (head) with compassion in the moment (heart) enabling us to connect with patients and families (together).
For more about Park Nicollet’s culture of Head + Heart, Together, please read my earlier blog post.
What can health care providers do to provide you with compassionate care in the moment? Please let us know by commenting below. We encourage a free exchange of ideas but, as always, we reserve the right to remove comments that make personal criticisms or attacks on individuals or specific businesses.