It is Time to Communicate Face to Face

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Sitting for hours with a loved one in the hospital room isn’t easy. As a physician, when I recently sat with my sister, my view of medical care certainly was rocked. Anna was hospitalized at a well-respected teaching hospital. Her doctors, nurses, and staff all “rounded” at different times. It appeared their communication with one another was solely via the electronic medical record, and face to face communication was not valued.

One morning, the doctors came by and said, “Great news you had a BM.” And in medicine, having your bowels work is always a good sign. Anna, insensate below the waist, said, “I don’t recall that, but, OK.” When her nurse came by later, we commented on the BM victory. She said, “Oh no, you did not. That was charted on the wrong patient.”

Another time, a physical rehabilitation doctor visited Anna to determine what services Anna would need at discharge. I was down the hall, in the unit’s waiting room, because a family friend was with Anna in her room. Multiple times Anna requested that this doctor come speak to me after their visit together. As her sister and a doctor I knew a lot about Anna’s struggles and needs. The rehab doctor never came by. I only learned of Anna’s request after the rehab doctor was long gone.

As a caregiver, it is not enough to just complete the daily note. One must actually care for the patient too.

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