The rude patient epidemic

hcahps

#1

Over time, there has been a dramatic shift in the way patients interact with healthcare professionals. Gone are the days when doctors and nurses were highly respected individuals and treated as such. Nowadays, patients have swapped respect with arrogance, rudeness, and a giant sense of entitlement. But why is this?

The internet

I love the internet! WebMD, Wikipedia, the Mayo Clinic, the CDC, Pubmed, Google, etc. are all amazing projects, and thanks to the internet we’ve seen tremendous strides in technology throughout all industries including healthcare, as the world is the most connected it’s ever been.

But… it also has its downsides. WebMD is borderline dangerous in the hands of the uneducated public. Googling any group of symptoms can return results for some serious illnesses and a panic-stricken patient can jump to conclusions way too quickly. If only they’d google hypochondriac instead.

This can lead to patients ordering things they think they need, rather than letting the professionals who do this for a living and have years of education and experience do it for them. If this takes place in a hospital, they are most likely going to get what they demand, because making patients happy by catering to their every whim and desire improves HCAHPS and gets the hospitals more reimbursement from federal insurance.

HCAHPS

The HCAHPS system is probably the worst idea in healthcare right now. In a nutshell, it decides how much hospitals get reimbursed (from federal insurance) for their work based on how satisfied the patients are with the hospital stay. To read all about HCAHPS, check out this article, Everything You Need to Know About HCAHPS.

Some hospitals even tinker with salaries and bonuses for doctors and nurses depending on how high the HCAHPS are… so you know these people are in no way biased in their actions, right?

Entire departments have been set up to ensure high levels of patient satisfaction and customer service, and jobs can be put on the line if performance in these categories starts lacking.

In theory, it sounds good to make patients have a satisfying stay, but in reality, it’s totally unrealistic, and oftentimes doing the right thing, is not the satisfying thing. This leads us to the next topic of a shift in how patients are perceiving hospitals.

Hospital perception

Many people don’t want to be in more pain, doing PT more often, adhering to strict diets, being told what to do, and aggressively trying to improve their health. Instead, they would prefer to stay doped up on strong pain meds, watch TV, have nurses cater to them 24/7, etc.

They begin to treat a hospitalization as a vacation and start looking at hospitals as fancy hotels, and at the end, they get to rate it.

“The food sucks and the portions are way too small!”

You mean the AHA/ADA diet they put you on because you have CHF and diabetes wasn’t up to your gourmet restaurant standards? Obviously! It’s food designed to get you healthy, not kill you faster like the seafood or Chinese buffet that probably got you here in the first place!

“I can’t believe this place, you never give me all the drugs I ask for!”

Last I checked, I didn’t drive to your house, kidnap you, and take you to this hospital against your will. Next time either don’t call 911, drive to another hospital, refuse admission, or leave AMA… but for the love of God, please stop wasting everyone’s time and taking up a room that a legitimately sick person could use!

“This TV remote doesn’t work fast enough, I hate this hospital!”

You’re welcome we saved your life with an emergent CABG, and that’s what’s allowing you to be yelling at us at this time. Please, tell us more about how much you hate us.

The proverbial punching bag
These days, everything that goes wrong is automatically the hospital’s, and therefore, every single employee’s fault. Nobody has any patience for anything. I’ve been greeted many-a-time to a patient I’ve never even met before with angered screams of everything that’s gone wrong for them in the past year or so.

What makes you think you can treat people this way? Do you randomly approach strangers on the street and berate them too? Is that how you really got that black eye when you had that “fall”?

It sickens me the way some people act when they are in the hospital. We are taught in school that we are caring people at the worst times of their lives, but that is not an excuse to treat people like garbage, especially those that are trying to help you.