This week I diverge from my usual posting of correctional nurse-specific information to ponder the recent Nurse’s Week theme of “Nurses Leading the Way” in light of my husband’s hip replacement surgery experience. If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, then you already know that my husband had an arthritic hip replaced on Tuesday. This was our first experience with the small rural hospital near our mountain home of 4 years. It was also my first experience as a spouse in a traditional hospital setting. Up to this point we have been blessed with only outpatient surgeries and ambulatory care episodes.
Certainly the skill of the surgeon and the efficiency of the operative process affect patient outcome, and I was careful to research the surgeon and hardware as we prepared for the big day. I couldn’t help but see, however, watching from the patient room visitor chair, how important nursing initiative and leadership is to patient outcome.
The hospital practices “Patient-Directed Care”, which was explained to us in our pre-admission education. This process would work fine for someone like me – someone who speaks their mind (probably too often!) and understands the nursing system. My husband, however, needed more direction and confirmation from the nursing staff as to what he needed to ask for. He has a common patient profile – I don’t want to bother them, they are busy, I don’t want to be a trouble-maker. As a result, his first post-operative day was not a very satisfying experience.
This all changed the next day when his primary nurse took the time (and leadership) to explain to my husband the pain management regimen prescribed by his surgeon. She set him up with the information he needed to actively manage his pain and, therefore, be comfortable enough to participate in physical therapy and to rest.
This nurse took the lead in making sure my husband had the knowledge to direct his care. A fantastic process like patient-directed care may be in place yet ineffective without a nurse leading the way for each patient to be sure it can be implemented.
In the spirit of this past Nurses Week, I salute Nurse Trisha and her extra efforts with my husband, one of her many patients who needed a nurse to lead the way.
PS-Do you tell staff you are a nurse when you are a visiting family members in a hospital situation? I find that can make them nervous so I usually fly under the radar, if I can.
Have you had a family patient experience where a nurse took leadership that made a difference? Share your story in the comments section of this post.