Over the last couple of days, we’ve been having some conversations regarding the Iowa Specialty Hospitals & Clinics standards of behavior. The specific standard that was being discussed was “all staff respond to call lights.” For those of you who have gone through my orientation, you hear me talk about this. I say that I won’t take anyone to the bathroom (or do something I haven’t been trained for); I won’t silence their IV pole alarm or give them water … but I will tell them I will alert nursing that they need assistance - hence, I responded to the patient’s need. Why? Because our nursing staff checks on our patients hourly and asks the questions that reference the four P’s - pain, pottying, positioning and possessions - about 90% of why a patient would call for assistance.
The story that used to be told about call lights was from the TV show St. Elsewhere. The patient was Mrs. Hufnagle and the story was she was always calling on her nurse call and she was considered a pesky bother. The nursing staff didn’t always respond promptly, and the one time they ignored the call - the bed malfunctioned, folded up, and squished her.
Now, that would never happen here. Ever. I’m not saying that we would ever ignore a patient. We check on our patients routinely … but if someone is pushing their call button after they have been asked the major questions, it’s probably important. So I’ll stick my head in the room and tell the patient I’m getting someone to help them out; chances are the nursing staff is already on their way, but if I’m that patient - I know they are really concerned about me if the CEO is telling me that he is getting a nurse right away to take care of my needs.
My best attempt at an analogy is -- a restaurant that runs well is one where everyone pulls in the same direction. The host or owner or server or cook walks through the dining room and if there is a dirty table or dishes on a table, they bus the table. Never walk back to the kitchen with empty hands. In a hospital, every patient (or visitor) is our valued customer - treat them as you would want to be treated.