The road to implementing trauma informed care in a hospital is paved with obstacles. There's never enough time. Patients' emotions, especially during times of high stress, can be difficult or uncomfortable. Emotions are not reimbursable by insurance. Inability to fix or help solve a patient's problem. This particular obstacle proves challenging for most doctors and nurses and a leading reason not to implement trauma informed care. It's also very understandable. Those who choose the healthcare industry as their profession are caretakers by nature. They want to "fix" problems and heal illnesses and injuries. However, opening the proverbial can of worms known as emotions often comes with issues and concerns which are not "fixable". In a recent post on KevinMD, Dr. Daniel Meltzer reflects:
"It feels rather “psychobabbley.” It’s almost universally not something we want to do nor feel comfortable doing in the ER, I can tell you that. We “don’t have time,” or, “it’s not my job… doctors, of course, can’t solve the economic, societal and interpersonal challenges that cause unhappiness.”
What happens when doctors and nurses open themselves up to the uncomfortable conversation that follows the question “How do you feel?”? Regardless of the response, expressing interest in the patient beyond their diagnosis allows trust to develop between the provider and patient. When a patient feels “seen” and “heard” as their own unique person, not a diagnosis, they will most likely share clinically relevant information or become more active in the management of their illness or injury.
“What I’m finding, however, is that patients are not only grateful for the inquiry, they then often offer useful pearls as to how best to manage their diseases. They begin to more effectively co-partner in their care, cutting to the chase and saving us, in the long run, unnecessary, low yield work.”
Ultimately, gaining the trust of patients leads to improved clinical diagnostic information and treatment adherence, which leads to better outcomes, which leads to more patient satisfaction and more personal and professional satisfaction for providers:
“Connecting, alleviating suffering, all through simple phraseology. And, we learn, really more about what brings our patients in, why they have come to see us, what they want and how we can help. Asking pointed and even difficult questions, such as, “How do you feel?” and contrasting it with a more typical, “How are you feeling?” allows us to improve our diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness, to be more effective, and on a personal as well as professional level, to feel and do better.”
Ultimately, it leads to more healing. More physical healing. More emotional healing. More healing for the patient. More healing for the provider.
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