Democrats & Liberals Archives

Prioritizing Patient Centered Care in Today's Healthcare System

It’s no secret that a majority of people don’t enjoy visiting the hospital. In fact, there are multiple studies that back that up.

A 2012 Harvard School of Public Health poll recently found that only half of people who spent any amount of time in a hospital over the course of the year were satisfied with their quality of care. The remaining 50 percent of respondents felt discomfort about mistakes made by staff, poor communication between staff and patients, and feeling that their healthcare provider was unresponsive to their worries and their needs.

"About a third of respondents say that nurses were not available when they were needed, and another third said that communication was really lacking," NPR health correspondent Julie Rovner said regarding the study. "That seemed to be, you know, a fairly pervasive problem, communication between them and their caregivers or between the caregivers who were taking care of them, meaning doctors and nurses, didn't have communication or other aides didn't have good communication. That seems to be a fairly pervasive problem in the healthcare system in general but particularly in the hospital."

The systemic reasons for this are obvious and plentiful. Most of these problems and complaints stem from a lack of trained medical professionals. All over the country, doctors and nurses are in short supply. Rural areas in particular feel the effects of this due to what some experts have described as a "rural brain drain," meaning that in rural areas, there is a drastic lack of healthcare providers. In these areas, medical professionals experience more burnout, have higher turnover rates, and hospitals are far more likely to close.

While many hospitals still struggle with unhappy and unsatisfied patients, there are a number of medical institutions that have managed to transform the ways in which they care for their patients. Specifically, they have created models which focus more on patient advocacy and care, further ensuring that their healing experience includes transparency, individualization of care, recognition, respect, dignity, and choice to all of their patients.

One such institution, called Planetree, was founded by a former patient who had experienced difficulties and discomfort at a prior hospital in the early 1970s.

"She herself became very ill and was hospitalized," the current Planetree President Susan Frampton told NPR. "And while she felt she got good clinical quality care, she was really horrified by the human experience that she had. So she founded Planetree with a very lofty goal: to change the healthcare system to be more patient- and family-centered. And that has been our mission ... for the last three and a half decades."

The current CEO of the company explains the ways they've approached the health care model differently, stating, "We put patients in rooms with gowns that don't have backs on them; we strip them of their dignity; we don't explain things to them. And that's really not what they want."

Other institutions and members of the healthcare community agree that a different model is necessary moving forward.

One nurse, Phillip Castillo, who is employed in JFK Medical Center's stroke unit, notes that having his own medical emergency has transformed the way he now views patient care.

"I learned so much about being a patient all in one session," Castillo said. "I now understand what they're going through." Like many patients whom he had previously treated, Castillo found himself ill informed of his condition and felt alarmed about his condition. "I just wanted to know more. I can't talk yet, but tell me what happened and why," he wrote.

This opens up a further conversation about what they consider to be good and responsible care. According to recent studies, patients appreciate personal connections with their doctors and other medical staff, and also having adequate amounts of communication and empathetic responses to inquiries.

Though it seems simple, these adjustments can majorly affect patient outcomes. According to the aforementioned study, "patients who received adequate information about their diagnosis or prognosis experienced better symptom relief and functional outcomes."

With healthcare shortages making headlines throughout the country, it's clear that quality of care has become a primary concern for patients and their families. Reevaluating the healthcare model we currently employ to refocus on a patient-centered model might make a difference and should be a model we employ moving forward.

Posted by DanikaK at October 4, 2018 11:06 AM
Comment #432585

There are some very good reasons why many people are very afraid to be a patient in a hospital.

According to a John Hopkins study, there are 250,000 deaths per year due to preventable medical mistakes.
IF true, then preventable medical mistakes is the THIRD leading cause of death (after heart disease and cancer).
Some other estimates state the actual number is as high as 440,000 deaths per year due to preventable medical mistakes.

  • source:
  • (Medical Journal) claims medical errors are the THIRD leading cause of death.

  • source:
  • On 27-July-2004, reported that “An average of 195,000 people in the U.S. died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical
    errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a study of 37 million patient records”.

    Large studies as far back as year 1984 stated there were 100,000 deaths per year due to preventable medical mistakes, and that figure of 100,000 per year was used and referred to by many for many years.

    Using the conservative annual death rate number (from JUL-2004: 195,000 x the last 6 years from 2012 to 2018 = 1,170,000), more people died of preventable medical mistakes in only the last six years, than all of the 918,880 American soldiers killed in all American wars (American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Korean War (36,574), Vietnam War (58,209), the Iraq Gulf War (529), the current Iraq war (4,424 as of JUN-2016), and Afghanistan wars (2,372 as of JUL-2018)) combined! Compare those 195,000 killed by preventable medical mistakes to the 43,000 people killed annually in the U.S. in automobile accidents.

    I personally have twice, alomst, become one of those statistics:

    • A nurse tried to give me some other patients’ medications. I knew I was not supposed to be taking medications by mouth, and interestingly my doctor told me “IF someone offers you any medicine, or anything by mouth, don’t take it.”. The next day, the nurse placed a tray with pills in small white paper cup next to me, and she said “Here are your meds”. I asked “Am I supposed to take these?”. She looked momentarily shocked, and grabbed the medication from me. She said “No, those are not for you”.
    • A nurse closed the door on the IV machine, which pinched the IV hose, which was sucking air. I pressed the emergency button. When the nurse arrived, I asked “Is that a bad thing to have air in that IV?”, and the nurse made a mad dash to disconnect the IV, and then she subsequently reconnected the IV with a new hose.
    • I know a woman how had a sponge accidentally left inside her, and the hospital had the gall to try to charge her for the 2nd surgery to remove the sponge; apparently, accidentally leaving things inside patients happens 4,000 per year, and many died because of it;
    • I knew a woman who was in the hospital and she told them repeatedly (and it was on her chart) that she was allergic to sulfa drugs. A doctor prescribed a sulfa drug, causing anaphylaxis, and she was in a coma for 2 days;
    • Over a period of 6.5 years, doctors in Colorado (only one state) operated on the wrong patient 25 times, and on the wrong body part 107 times.

    So, patients should be very careful, ask questions, make very certain they are operating on the correct eye, appendage, organ, etc. And none of the above even includes misdiagnoses.

    Posted by: d.a.n at October 8, 2018 2:41 PM
    Post a comment