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Patients Expect The ER To Be Unpleasant, So Why Improve It?

Our emergency department was very busy recently. The hospital was full and we were holding patients. Three had been in the ER many hours; one waiting for a bed for six hours, another eight hours, and still one more for eleven hours. Of course, ambulance traffic hadn’t stopped and the waiting room was full, with patients waiting too long to be seen. (And we all know that the media loves to highlight bad outcomes from the ER waiting room!)

Administration set up a ‘command post’ to try to arrange beds, discharges and moves. At one point I asked one of our administrators to move those waiting the longest to hallway beds up on the patient floors. He told me that he couldn’t because each of the two floors in question already had one patient in the hall. And besides, it would violate the patients’ privacy and make it too difficult for the nurses to do their admissions assessments.

I pointed out, ‘our nurses do assessments in the hall, our patients don’t have privacy and sometimes we have to work with seven or eight patients in the hallway!’

He replied, ‘yes Dr. Leap, I know, but I won’t move anyone else to the hall upstairs. I just won’t.’ I asked why. With a slight sense of obvious discomfort he replied, ‘because there is a different standard. When patients leave the ER, they expect to go to a better place.’ Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Patient Safety Video: “Hand Hygiene Saves Lives”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has produced a patient safety video about the importance of handwashing for hospital patients and their healthcare providers. The instructional piece entitled “Hand Hygiene Saves Lives” is available for hospitals to offer their newly-admitted patients. I think everyone should watch and learn:

Source: CDC-TV

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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