By Colleen Patterson on Nov 18, 2016 4:01:00 PM
The holidays are often many people's favorite time of year. The sights and smells, the traditions and memories, the food, friends and family gatherings are all parts of what make it special!
One of my most memorable Christmases was spent in the hospital with my 2 year old son, Manny. Right before Halloween of that year he'd been given his first PICC. Around Thanksgiving, a medical judgment error was made and his line was compromised. By early December, he had a positive culture: Candida Albicans. By mid December he went into septic shock. A code was called as his blood pressure bottomed out and his heart rate was undetectable. Thankfully he's a fighter and good decisions were made on his behalf. Christmas came late that year, but it came. There were numerous times we were questioning if he'd ever get to unwrap the presents under the tree. Thankfully Santa knows where all the children are, even if it's a hospital bed full of wires and tubes. By New Years, I promised him that I would do better. That I would learn more. That I would keep him safe. I solicited the help of some Vascular Access Specialists who eagerly taught me how to care for Manny's lines and how to be more proactive. The time spent with these specialists was invaluable to me. I truly attribute him being alive to the way they empowered me.
Fast forward 5 years. Manny is now 7. He's been hospitalized for several more holidays. But NONE have been for a line infection. Despite being on round the clock TPN and numerous IV medications, he has remained infection free. To me, the greatest gift clinicians can give a patient and family is to truly be an expert at their job. If you put in PICCS, be the best at that job. If you're hired for your competency in an area, don't just be competent, be excellent. Delve into the research. Seek out new skills and best practices. Challenge the status quo where you see the need for improvement. Connect with and support patients and families. Take those extra moments to make sure they understand the procedure of course but also get the big picture. Hear their concerns and questions. Stand in the gap for them to receive the best care and treatment. Fight for your patients. See yourself as a specialist and not just the procedure that you do. Think bigger! Yes, it will take extra time in your already busy day. But what you will get in return is a trail of patients who are well cared for as a person and not just as a procedure. You will know you are partly responsible for their recovery and return to health.
I believe healthcare is one of the most challenging and demanding fields. You often hold life and death decisions in your hands. Don't ever underestimate how you can make a difference - one patient at a time. Do you even have a clue how much of a gift you are? There are people who will get to celebrate the holidays this year again because of you. You are a gift!