Dedicated to Change in the Delivery of Health Care


What is patient-centered hospital care? Perhaps the definition becomes more obvious by stating what it is not.

It is not the diabetic in room 107 or the cardiac in room 212. That's not patient-centered, that's disease-centered. Worse still is "Doctor, room 110 needs something for pain." Can a room really be in pain! We are individuals. We are not our afflictions. Communication is how we get what we want and need. Poor communication leads to wars and injured patients - the victims of medical errors. Communication should be as specific as possible. Mary Jones who has diabetes; Frank Smith, the man with heart disease in room 212.

An unintended consequence of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is that communication about patients has been curtailed. Instead of a name, you are now the cardiac in room 212, the pain in room 110 or the diabetic in room 107. Otherwise, someone not involved in your care may hear your name spoken or view something written about you. The person who spoke your name or read about you is liable for a fine and imprisonment.

Disease management is a new concept that removes your individuality. All persons with the same chronic disease are to be treated the same. In order to further the use of disease management, physicians and hospitals will be issued report cards to publicize compliance with disease management.

Until HIPAA and disease management are modified to remove the potential for patient misidentification and injury you must take action to protect yourself when you are in the hospital.

When a nurse or other member of your health care team enters your room, be sure that you are identified by name. Do not allow any medication to be given to you unless you know what is being treated and that you are the right patient to receive the medication. Do not allow anyone to transport you to a test unless you know what the test is and its purpose and that you are the right person to be tested.

When not feeling well and in the hospital, it is best to have an advocate present to insure you don't receive wrong medication or other treatment, or a test intended for someone else. That's patient-centered care. An advocate can be a relative or a trusted friend who can be sure you are identified correctly.

When you are identified correctly, you decrease your risk of becoming the victim of a medical error and insure that you are receiving patient-centered care.

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patient centered care

Only patient centered care will lead to quality and cost effective care.